James (Jim) Eugene Lawton was born Jan. 14, 1938, near Linden at the home of his grandparents, Clem and Lelah Gibbons. His parents were Isabelle Lydia (Gibbons) and John Peter Lawton, who lived near Cooper at the time.
The family moved to Dawson Twp. on a farm near Paton in 1943. At a young age, his mother and siblings took over the farm due to John’s illness. The boys agreed to do the farm work if the family got rid of the milk cow.
He attended Paton Consolidated Schools until his graduation in 1956. He attended Buena Vista College for one year and then returned to farming with his family.
He was joined in marriage to Lila Mae Oakes, of Jefferson, on Aug. 16, 1958. They lived in a tiny house on the family farm for approximately one year. While living there, their daughter Lora Lee was born in 1959.
In 1960, they moved to a farm between Grand Junction and Beaver. While living there, their daughter Lisa Lynn was born in 1961.
In 1969, they moved to the Ames area, where they lived while Jim attended Iowa State University and graduated in 1975 from the College of Veterinary Medicine.
Upon graduation, they bought a veterinary practice in Boxholm, where he treated small and large animals.
After the farm crisis in 1985, many local farmers discontinued raising livestock, so another source of income was needed. Jim returned to truck driving for Allied Van Lines that had begun as a part-time job while in college. Later, Lila joined him as a partner in the truck. After Lila’s death in 2004, Jim continued driving for a few more years until he retired.
Career change number three started a few years later with lay ministry classes, leading to filling in at several local churches when their ministers were unavailable. In 2019, he was asked to take on his own congregation at the Epworth United Methodist Church in Fort Dodge, where he continued to work until his death.
Jim fulfilled a lifetime wish with a journey to the Holy Land in 2014. There he felt a real connection to Jesus and his life. The pictures of him on a camel are amazing.
He enjoyed the benefits of his different careers. Farming gave him a connection to family background and the land. Veterinary medicine let him take care of animals and to help local friends. Truck driving gave him the chance to see family and friends from all over the country. Retirement gave him a chance to help out with his grandchildren after their father passed away and time to reconnect with Lora and Lisa. The ministry gave him another purpose and let him make many new friends while serving God.
On May 10, Jim passed away from pancreatic cancer at Israel Family Hospice House in Ames with his daughters by his side.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jim had not been able to visit with his grandchildren or other family members for several months and was very glad that while in hospice they could come to visit him in pairs. Saturday was filled with visits with family members that could come, but sadly, he passed before others could visit on Sunday. He knew they were coming and was looking forward to the visits, but his body could not keep the appointments.
During their married life, Jim and Lila began a pattern of opening their home to those that needed it; from family to foreign exchange students to high school and college students. Many of them became family if they were not already, including Robert Lawton, Kim Jepsen Peppin, Charles Tilley III and Mattau Tilley.
Jim was preceded in death by his parents, John and Isabelle; wife Lila; daughter Leah Leone; brother Jerry Dean; sister Judy Ellen Conklin; and son-in-law Jose Ulises Segovia.
He is survived by daughters Lora and Lisa; grandchildren James Anthony Segovia, his wife Jolene Schultz; John Charles Segovia, his fiance Marissa Elsberry; Leah Isabelle Segovia; Joel Hughes and his wife, Kartika Budhwar; great-grandchildren Sophia Claire Hughes, Raina Olive Schultz and Isabel Marie Segovia.
The number of extended family, friends that are family, and those that have been touched by Jim are impossible to list.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, no services are planned at this time. A celebration will be held in the future, when we may all gather together to honor and remember Jim.
Services are being provided by the Slininger-Schroeder Funeral Home.