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James Russell Kearl

May 15, 1934 ~ January 5, 2021 (age 86)


James Russell Kearl was born the son of Cecil Grant Kearl and Jennie Wright on May 15, 1934 in Brigham City, Utah.  James, known as Jim or Jimbo by family and friends, was the second child born to Cecil and Jennie Kearl. 

Jim grew up in Laketown, Utah on the Kearl Family Ranch with his parents and grandparents, Alfred and Lula Kearl.  His father Cecil died unexpectedly in January of 1939 when Jim was four years old.  Some time after the death of Cecil, Jennie and her three children moved to Randolph, Utah where Jennie taught school for many years to support her family.

Jim was awarded a college scholarship through the Ford Foundation for gifted students which paid for his tuition and books for four years.  He attended the University of Utah and graduated with a master’s degree.  He married Shanna Fletcher and they had one son, Russell Kearl.  Shanna and Jim were later divorced, and Jim met Barbara Gay Rinehart who was renting the downstairs apartment in his mother’s house in Salt Lake City.  

Jim and Barbara became good friends, fell in love, and were later married in Denver, Colorado on March 16, 1957.  Jim and Barbara began their life together in southern California where Jim was employed by Douglas Aircraft as a draftsman and later a designer.  Eventually Jim would start his own design consulting firm with friends from former jobs.

In 1964 Jim was involved in a serious car accident that resulted in significant brain damage, which would be a challenge for him for the rest of his life.  Nothing in life came easy for Jim.  He set a good example for his children and grandchildren by working hard every day and never giving up.  He tried to find the humor in life and would often say, “They told me, ‘smile, things could be worse’.  So, I smiled, and they got worse.”  When talking with one child or another about challenges they were facing, he would counsel them by saying, “This too shall pass” or “I felt sorry for myself because I had no shoes, until I saw the man who had no feet.”  Jim many times would help out those who were less fortunate and needed assistance.  He would start up conversations with complete strangers and surprised at least one unknowing young mother by asking if he could hold her baby.   As a teenager, Jim had a live pet pig named Hamlet that he loved and this was perhaps the reason that in later years he kept a large collection of pigs.  People would give him stuffed animal pigs, ceramic, or hand drawn pigs, and he and his grandchildren often exchanged pig gifts.  

In his final years, Jim dealt with declining health and physical limitations.  He and Barbara were able to remain together for 61 years of marriage until her passing in March of 2018.  Jim passed away from complications of age and COVID.  He was blessed to have his daughter Jennie by his side when he peacefully passed from this life.

Jim was predeceased by his wife Barbara, his parents, his older brother Grant, and his son Russell Kearl.  He is survived by his son Kurtis (Melissa), Evaly (Mitch), Jennie (Nick), Jon (Jane) and Jason (Tami), 15 grandchildren and 24 great-granchildren and his younger sister Marilyn (Phil).

No service is planned at this time.  Jim and Barbara Kearl’s final resting place will be in the Brigham City Cemetery in Utah.


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