James Earl Krouse, 76, longtime Colfax fire chief, passed away doing what he loved to do, serving his community. Jim collapsed while fighting a wildfire just on the outskirts of town and was rushed to Whitman Hospital by his fellow firefighters, where he died of an apparent heart attack.
He followed in his father’s footsteps when he joined the Colfax Volunteer Fire Department in 1967. Jim epitomized what it meant to be a volunteer. He gave back to his community in the most unselfish acts of service, often at the expense of family fishing trips or backyard birthday parties, and never gave it a second thought. He was elected chief of department in 1973 and served in that capacity for 40 years. At the time of his death, Jim was chief emeritus and continued to answer more calls for service than most. He lived for, loved, and thoroughly enjoyed being a member of the fire department. His legacy of service to his community is long and distinguished, but it is also worth noting how much he loved his family, his God, and his neighbors and friends. Jim was humble and kind. Lifelong friendships and relationships abounded, as Chief Krouse was a leader, a teacher, a mentor, and a friend to so many in fire service that it was like one great big family.
He was very much a family man, devoted to his wife and kids. He loved spending time with his grandkids, and you could see his eyes light up each time he spoke of the great-grands. He was active in the Colfax Church of Nazarene and a member of Gideons. In later years, he really enjoyed tending his large garden and taking care of “the farm,” his little two-acre patch that he truly loved. Some of Jim’s most treasured memories were of hunting camp in the rugged canyons of the Blue Mountains. He enjoyed many seasons of packing in with the same group of guys and each helping the others with the season’s bounty. He liked to tell hunting or fishing stories with anyone he could. He looked after his wife, Elaine, with the love and devotion of a caring husband, and they enjoyed going for drives, camping, or canning peaches together. Being together was the point.
Jim’s legacy will be long-lived in Colfax, and he will be missed by many in this community. He is especially missed by his wife of 54 years, Elaine; his son, Daniel, and his wife, Sheila Krouse; his daughter, Lynda, and her husband, Rich Kramlich; his foster daughter, Kim Clark; his eight grandchildren, of whom he was so proud; his six great-grandchildren; his sister, Kathy, and her husband, Jerry Vosberg; as well as numerous extended family and friends.