Jim Niles‚ 59‚ died Thursday‚ January 13‚ 2011. He was born on September 13‚ 1951‚ in Beloit‚ Kansas‚ to Darwin ñBuzzî and Ida (Greig) Niles. When Jim was 13‚ the family moved to Loveland‚ Colorado‚ where he later met and married Karen (Sheaffer) Niles. They had two children‚ Mike and Debbie.
Jim’s interest in building motors in the early 70’s led him to drag racing. One of the cars he drove even set a track record in Cheyenne‚ Wyoming. He then spent most of his life working as an automotive technician for dealerships in Loveland‚ Colorado; Cheyenne‚ Wyoming; and Cawker City and Beloit‚ Kansas. He was ASE L1 Master Certified and owned his own business‚ Community Auto‚ in Downs‚ for over 20 years.
Jim played men’s and coached women’s softball in Colorado. After the family moved to Kansas in the early 80’s‚ he helped coach youth league baseball as well. He always cherished the time he spent being with or helping children‚ including Karen’s babysitting kids and especially his grandchildren.
Jim was an avid hunter and enjoyed 25 years of hunting elk in Colorado. This last fall‚ he even got to take his grandson on his first elk hunt. As much as he loved hunting elk‚ his true passion was pheasant hunting over good dogs with his favorite 16 gauge shotgun. Jim also spent a lot of time studying ballistics and excelled at the fine art of hand-loading his own ammunition.
Jim owned and trained several horses throughout his life‚ and enjoyed participating in team penning events across the state of Kansas. He was also a familiar sight riding in the Downs Celebration Parade or sometimes even riding his horse in places he maybe shouldn’t have been.
Jim was a true cowboy who never passed up an opportunity to go two-stepping‚ and he and Karen led many wedding grand marches for couples in the area. Jim attended the First Christian Church of Downs‚ Kansas.
For the last 18 years‚ he had been an active member of the Downs Volunteer Fire Department. He was elected 2nd captain in 2003‚ and was promoted to 1st captain in 2006‚ the position in which he was currently serving. The service and camaraderie he felt with this group of men had become a joy to him that can’t be described in words.
Jim was preceded in death by his father‚ Buzz. He is survived by his wife‚ Karen‚ of the home; his son‚ Mike‚ and wife‚ Jonell‚ of Great Bend‚ Kansas; his daughter‚ Debbie Niles‚ of Ellinwood‚ Kansas; a brother‚ Dan Niles‚ of Downs; a sister‚ Thelma Franzen‚ and husband‚ Merlin‚ of San Angelo‚ Texas; his mother‚ Ida Niles‚ of Downs; and four grandchildren.