He graduated from Southwest Missouri State University in 1958 where he played football and received his Bachelor's of Science Degree in Education. He also received training in military science and tactics. His education was interrupted only by his military service as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army from 1958-'60, and later he became a captain in the Reserves. After his military service, Jim worked as a teacher and football coach in Rolla, Mo. In 1964, he graduated from the University of Missouri with a Masters' of Science in Social Work.
After receiving his master's degree, Jim spent the next 43 years dedicated to the profession. Most recently, he was in private practice as a licensed clinical social worker. He held advanced social work recognition as a Board Certified Diplomat in the Academy of Certified Social Workers. Jim was also a licensed professional counselor and a licensed chemical dependency counselor. He consulted with numerous community agencies and professional organizations throughout his career. He served as the executive director for the San Angelo Council on Alcoholism and the director of Mental Services for the Concho Valley Center for Human Advancement. Prior to moving to Texas, he practiced in the state of Missouri as the executive director of the Ozark Community Mental Health Center, which in 1969 was the first comprehensive community mental health center in the state of Missouri.
While remaining committed to his profession, Jim was involved in many other interests. He coached pee-wee football and baseball and was president of the Iowa-Missouri District Exchange Club. Jim enjoyed flying, obtaining his commercial pilot's license, hunting, spending time at the condo, and the circle of friends he gained by riding his Honda 1800 Gold Wing. "All angels have Gold Wings." Jim was preceded in death by his parents; and special brother-in-law, Claude Tucker.
He is survived by his wife of 51 years, Nancy; and their children, daughter, Debbie and husband, Dan Epley of Burleson, Texas; son, Mark Gonterman and wife, Denise of San Angelo, Texas; daughter, Kimberly and husband, Paul Key of Fort Worth, Texas; grandchildren, Chad and Katie Epley, and Matt, Kathy and Mark Gonterman Jr.; great-grandchild, Kirstie Gonterman; and sister, Phylis Tucker of Springfield, Mo.; sister-in-law, Susan and her husband, Jack Adams, of Olathe, Kan. "Uncle Louie" is also survived by numerous nieces and nephews.
Memorial service was held at 11 a.m., Monday, July 2, at First United Methodist Church with the Rev. Nathaniel A.B. Hankins officiating. He was assisted by Dr. Jarvis Wright and Nelson Word. Arrangements were under the direction of Johnson's Funeral Home.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to West Texas Boys Ranch, 10223 Boys Ranch Road, San Angelo, Texas, 76904; the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Council for the Concho Valley, P.O. Box 3805, San Angelo, Texas, 76902; or to a charity of your choice.