Cover photo for James Grassie's Obituary
James Grassie Profile Photo
1931 James 2016

James Grassie

May 13, 1931 — August 20, 2016

James Irvin Grassie was born on May 13, 1931 to George Lee and Opal Baker Grassie at the family home one mile south of Dexter, New Mexico. In 1932, George married Lizzie Ward, who raised Jim. He departed this life on August 20, 2016 surrounded by the love of his family at his home, one fourth of a mile from where he was born.

Jim grew up working hard on the farm. He drove tractors, chopped cotton, cleaned ditches, hauled hay... always a job to be done. Jim worked full time along with the men since he was nine years old. When he was thirteen, Jim struck out on his own. He first went to Kansas, then came back South to Texas. He got a job on a farm for $4.00 a day, where he irrigated without any irrigating boots and was soon miserable with thorns and goatheads in his bare feet. He decided it was better just to irrigate in his shoes. When it was time to start school, Jim went back home. There were many years that school started without Jim and his brothers. They could not attend until the farm work was finished.

Jim went all through school in Dexter and was active in sports while in high school. He lettered in basketball, baseball, and track. After practice and games, Jim would walk home late at night to the farm east of Greenfield. He finally saved enough money to buy an old pickup.

The first time Jim saw Bonnie, she was swimming at Lake Van. The only way he could get her attention was to splash her with his best cannonball. They married when Bonnie graduated from high school, mid year, and have been taking care of each other ever since. Jim and Bonnie were married in the First Presbyterian Church, Dexter, New Mexico on February 3, 1950. Jim worked on the Newsom farm and then at the Dexter and Hagerman Cotton Gin Cooperative. He felt he could do better working on his own than working for other people, so they bought the Mobil gas station in Dexter. He took classes at night at ENMUR in accounting and business law to broaden his knowledge. He still worked at the gin sometimes at night to buy a hay baler so he could bale at night while running the station seven days a week. During this time, they had their three daughters, who were the joy of Jim's life. In 1956, they sold the service station and Jim felt like he had just been released from jail because of the long hours. He then went to work for Moore Business Forms, in 1957, as a systems engineer. He attended several sales schools, took classes at the University of California at Berkeley, and traveled quite extensively while working for this company.

Jim had many other opportunities, but his heart was always in the Pecos Valley and in agriculture. In 1959, Jim and Bonnie bought their first farm and have been farming and ranching since. Jim rented farms along with farming his own. They bought and sold many places over the years. Any land Jim ever worked was in much better shape when he left than when he got there.

Jim always worked in his community to help families, children, and the elderly. He served on the Board of Directors for the Chaves County Joy Centers for twenty years, four times as Board President. He was a member of New Mexico Cattle Growers Association. He is a former member of the Board of Directors of Chaves County Soil and Water Conservation District. He served on the Freeholders Road Committee for Chaves County Commissioners. Jim assisted with Girl Scouts for fifteen years and he has been a member of Sertoma and Lions civic clubs. He was an active member of the Dexter Volunteer Fire Department for many years and served on Dexter Town Council for two terms from 1954 to 1958. He served as Mayor of Dexter for eight years from 1978-1986. During this time they were able to get a Community Development Grant to build the Dexter Medical and Dentil Clinic, initiate local ambulance service and add to the town's water system. Lake Van was renovated with new landscape and boat docks. The play areas at the lake and in the city park were filled with play equipment. He helped to build over one hundred new homes and an apartment complex for Dexter during his term in office.

Jim served on the Eastern New Mexico Medical Center Board of Trustees from 1986 to 1992 and also served as their representative to the State Hospital Board. He received recognition as Outstanding Conservation Farmer from the Southwestern Conservancy District. Jim was recognized for his exemplary service by the Southwestern New Mexico Economic Development District. He received an award for outstanding service and contributions to Senior Citizens and was given the Voice of Democracy Award by the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Jim was inducted into the Dexter High School Hall of Fame in 1995.

Jim Grassie was a man of honor and integrity. He was strong, caring and had an unparalleled work ethic. His family, and all those who loved him as a father, called him Papa. Papa's love for his family was unconditional. No matter the situation, the examples are many; he stood up for his family and was on their side. There was never a time when Papa knew someone needed help that he was not there immediately. He was the strength and foundation upon which his children and grandchildren have built their lives and families; that is the legacy that will be carried forward for generations to come.

Jim was preceded in death by his daughter, Willeta Diane Grassie Tessier, grandson, Michael Bradford Harrell, and three brothers, Walter, Bill and George. He is survived by his wife of 66 years Bonnie Baker Grassie, his daughter Patricia and her husband Dr. Bob Parsons of Dexter, and his daughter Connie Harrell of Roswell. His much beloved grandchildren and great-grandchildren Clay Cohorn, wife Chelsea and son Talon of Whitesboro, Texas, Patrick Cohorn, wife Brittney and children Halle and Graham of Midland, Texas, Bonnie Gipson, husband Sean, son Sean, II and baby girl Gipson soon to arrive of Ft. Worth, Texas, Alexandre Harrell of Roswell and Whitney Harrell currently attending USC in Los Angles, California. Jim is survived by his brother Earl Grassie and sister Anna Lou (Suzi) Wagner. Also considered family, Yvette Durand Crile.

Funeral Services will be held at 10:00 AM, Tuesday, August 23, 2016 at First Presbyterian Church in Dexter. Reverend Stephen Deutsch will officiate assisted by Phillip Grassie. Burial will follow at South Park Cemetery in Roswell. Pallbearers will be Clay Cohorn, Brad Harrell, Patrick Cohorn, Sean Gipson, Bob Parsons, Earl Grassie, Norman Butts, and Joe Durand. Honorary pallbearers are members of the Breakfast Club at Toby's Café in Hagerman and all Jim's many friends.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in Jim's name to Chaves County Joy Centers.


First Presbyterian Church of Dexter
201 West 5th Street
Dexter, NM  88230
Tuesday, August 23, 2016
10:00 am


South Park Cemetery
3101 S. Main St.
Roswell, NM  88203
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of James Grassie, please visit our flower store.


Visits: 38

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the
Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Service map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

Send Flowers

Send Flowers

Plant A Tree

Plant A Tree