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Welcome to the memorial page for

James Russel Velebir, Jr.

March 20, 1941 ~ November 9, 2017 (age 76)
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Jim’s wish to take his last breaths in his own home was granted, where he passed away on November 9th. He also desired that his body be laid to rest in Highland Cemetery, Great Falls, Montana, where his Velebir grandparents, parents, and aunts are buried. Farewells in California were said at a service on November 16th.  He will be laid to rest in Highland Cemetery following a service at Croxford Funeral Home on Wednesday, November 22nd at 11 AM.

James R. Velebir, Jr. was born March 20, 1941 in Seattle, Washington, the firstborn child of James R. and Mildred Velebir. When James, Sr. was discharged from the service, the family returned to Montana, first living in Dutton, where Jim attended first and second grade, before returning to their roots in Belt.

Jim graduated from Belt Valley High School in 1959 and promptly enlisted in the US Air Force, serving until honorably discharged in 1963. After attending MSU in Bozeman, Montana, he began working in various capacities for several technology companies in Pennsylvania and New Jersey as the electronics industry rapidly evolved in the 1960’s, then continuing to work in this field for many decades.

Jim married Arlys Hanson on July 9, 1980. They made their home in New Jersey until moving to California, where they have lived in their Laguna Niguel home since 1987.

Jim was born with a heart defect called a bicuspid aortic valve, which eventually required multiple surgical interventions. Over the last 27 years, Jim had four open heart surgeries and experienced a major stroke, all related to his heart. With the last surgery on February 28th, bacteria entered Jim’s blood stream and affected his artificial aortic valve. Jim and his wonderful doctors waged a valiant fight, including four additional hospitalizations, but ultimately infection in his heart took his life.

Jim’s heart journey was the inspiration for the creation of the Bicuspid Aortic Foundation. The family gratefully welcomes donations to the Foundation in Jim’s memory. For additional information, please visit the website at

Left to mourn his loss are his wife, Arlys; sister, Karen Nebel; brother, Dennis Veleber; sisters-in-law, Carol Nelson, Olive Cote, Doris Nelson, Frances Opstedol, and Eunice Hanson; nephews and nieces, and a host of dear friends. He is also deeply missed by Petie, an African Grey parrot who adopted Jim and Arlys over 20 years ago.

He was preceded in death by his parents and parents-in-law.

 Service Information

Funeral Service
November 22, 2017

11:00 AM
The Rose Room Chapel ~ Croxford Funeral Home
1307 Central Ave
Great Falls, MT 59401

Graveside Service
November 22, 2017

12:00 PM
Highland Cemetery
2010 33rd Ave. S
Great Falls, MT 59405

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