Cover photo for James Willey's Obituary
James Willey Profile Photo
1944 James 2022

James Willey

March 18, 1944 — November 17, 2022

James A. Willey, 78, of Whitney, NE, passed away November 17, 2022, at Hilltop Estates in Gothenburg, NE, after a courageous battle of colon cancer.

Jim was born March 18, 1944 to Don and Midge (Lee) Willey of Grand Island, NE. As a child, he enjoyed spending time with his two brothers, younger sister and their various species of pets to include ducks, raccoons and skunks...descented, of course. He was known for his work ethic, attention to detail and for completing a task thoroughly. He learned this skill at the age of 14 while working at Kelly's Market in Grand Island starting as a sorter of potatoes and recycled Coke bottles in the back of the building to later managing in the front. He attended Grand Island Senior High, graduating in 1962 and attended UNL for one year where he admitted to his grandchildren he enjoyed driving up and down "O" street more than pursuing an education.

In 1966 he married Nancy Bainbridge and together raised two children, JD and Kandace in Crawford, NE, where he was a manager of the local Jack and Jill grocery store. One day the owner came in and said he was selling the store and wanted Jim to stay. Jim, like many people do when faced with a tough decision, went to the local bar to seek advice. This led him to one of the proudest decisions of working for the BNSF railroad, retiring in 2003. In 1995 he married Mary Hartman and together enjoyed traveling and watching the wildlife from the front window, until her health wouldn't allow it. He cared for Mary and through this act of kindness, many realized his unlimited well of graciousness and unconditional love.

Jim will be remembered for his boundless amount of positivity, friendship, love of family, animals, patriotism and his appreciation for all those who cared for him. Not to mention, his beloved 1964 GTO's, "Silver" and "Gold" which he enjoyed with his children and grandchildren.

Jim is survived by his son, JD (Alyssa) Willey of Missouri City, TX, and their children, McKenzie of Calispell, MT, and Hayden of Missouri City, TX. His daughter, Kandace Davis of Gothenburg, and children, Jaiden of Lincoln and Jonathan of Gothenburg, and his sister, Candy Stuart, of Grand Island, NE.

Jim was preceded in death by his wife, Mary Hartman, parents Don and Midge, two brothers, Mike and Don, nephew, David and brother-in-law Richard Stuart.

The family would like to express their heartfelt gratitude to the staff of Hilltop Estates for the special care they provided to Jim, the special treats, winks, and inside jokes that made him smile. Also, Chadron Home and Health and Hospice and Central Plains Home and Health and Hospice for coordinating his care.

Jim chose to be cremated and requested a private family burial in Crawford, NE. A Celebration of Life for family and friends will be held at the Bethel Community Church in Whitney at a later date.

Memorials may be directed to the United Methodist Church of Chadron or the Crawford Volunteer Fire Department.

To sign the online guest book, go to

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of James Willey, please visit our flower store.


Visits: 93

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