In Loving Memory of Jim Gill

James "Jim" Gill

June 16, 1948 — March 16, 2024

James Frank Gill, 75, of Roswell, NM passed surrounded by family and loved ones on March 16, 2024 in Albuquerque, NM. He was born on June 16, 1948 to Walter Lee Gill and Iola McCombs Gill in Clovis, NM.

Jim’s roots in the community were deep from birth as the fourth generation of Roswell Seed Company, and he made them even stronger through a lifetime of being the heartbeat of the entire Southeastern New Mexico community. He was a master storyteller with a unique ability to connect past with present, sowing seeds of wisdom and levity in conversations that ranged from agriculture advice to reliving past shenanigans. Sometimes it was hard to tell what part was the wisdom and what was the levity, but that was the magic of having a conversation with Jim Gill. 

“Blackeye” Jim officially started his Roswell Seed career earning a quarter for sweeping the floor at eight years old. He demonstrated his business acumen early, saving his quarters to run down the street to Ginsberg’s music store to buy a Buddy Holly record. Jim was a Cub Scout, and although he didn’t know it at the time, his Den Mother would later become his mother-in-law. Later in his adolescent years, he could be found dragging Main in his old Plymouth with his cousin Doug, when he wasn’t playing saxophone in the Roswell High School Band. 

After graduating Roswell High School in 1966, Jim’s agricultural heritage formalized with his Aggie education at New Mexico State University, where he earned his Bachelor’s in Agricultural Engineering. His time at NMSU was spent participating in ROTC, the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, and engaging in non-publishable shenanigans with his fellow Aggies. His participation in the Physical Science Lab (PSL) Program provided funding for his schooling along with rich experiences in satellite tracking, scuba diving, and surfing across the Philippines, Hawaii, and White Sands Missile Range. He took to the skies in 1969 with his pilot’s license and later lamented that he wasn’t cut out to be a pilot because “no one wanted to fly with him twice.” 

After graduation, Jim went to work at the 3C FeedLot near Hagerman. Though he later earned his MBA at Eastern New Mexico University, he cited his time at the feedlot as teaching him foundational business skills in addition to feeding thousands of cows daily. 

Thanks to matchmaking from Phil Messick and his wife Donna, and a little coaxing from Shirley Brabham, Jim Gill attended a country dance party on November 12, 1981. The two acquaintances were brought together for what would be over 40 years of marriage, starting with walking down the aisle at NMMI Chapel on April 10, 1982. The two welcomed their first daughter, Jamie Beth, on July 2, 1984, and their second daughter, Emily Renee, on November 14, 1989. They’ve since lived in a home built by Gordon Patton (cousin Betty’s husband), and yes it’s still standing.

Throughout the years, the Gill Family could be found driving through Roswell fields inspecting how the seeds of the fourth-generation family business were flourishing. As a proud dad, he would be on the sidelines, fields, courts, and stages of sports and musical activities across town for his girls. Jim understood success extended beyond academics and spent time coaching Roswell Youth Basketball alongside Jim Young when their girls wanted to play (even though neither had played themselves) and presided over the Goddard High School Band for four years as Booster President. 

But his support didn’t stop there–anyone who has walked by Roswell Seed can see decades-long sponsorships for school kids across the area. If a Girl Scout walked in the door, Jim would shout “Peanut Butter Box is here” and buy a whole case of cookies. Beyond Roswell, Jim’s avid support of the 4H & FFA youth programs stretched across all of Eastern New Mexico. 

Jim was a man of many projects. When he wasn’t welding or tinkering on his Jeep before Jeep Jamborees, he would build housing for the farm animals around the Gill country home. Upon meeting his bride-to-be, he had the parts of a motorcycle that he intended to build sprawled out across his living room. Shirley never had to worry about him riding it, though, because she knew he wouldn’t put it together for years to come. Well, on Jim’s 60th birthday, Shirley decided to surprise him with one that was actually put together - much to their dear friend Betty Young’s chagrin and Jim Young’s delight, as she had said he couldn’t get a motorcycle until Jim Gill got one. Following suit, Betty broke down and allowed her hubby to have a motorcycle. 

Jim was known to say, “I’d rather walk a planted field than stroll along a beach.”  True to his passion, he taught children’s beekeeping classes for 16 years and was a superintendent of the garden vegetable division of the Eastern New Mexico State Fair. He never liked being in the spotlight but his contributions were too notable to go unmentioned. Jim is recognized as a Paul Harris Fellow by Roswell Rotary, former President of New Mexico Seedsmen’s Association and Southern Seed Association, served as Board Member of the Historical Society of Southeast New Mexico, and received the Roswell Outstanding Leader award. Jim was deeply rooted as the ENM State Fair Produce Superintendent and was the 2021 Grand Marshall of RNM State Fair Parade. Jim was the definition of integrity, doing the right thing when no one was watching with humility that didn’t expect recognition. 

Jim is survived by his wife Shirley Brabham Gill, his daughters Jamie Beth Gill and Emily Gill Manatt, her husband Benjamin F. Manatt and their son Henry James Manatt. His pups Gus and Heidi, four miniature donkeys, grandpup Nash, and grandcat Simon. He is survived by his brother Walter, his wife Vanda and their children John & Jennifer and their families. His sister-in-law Brenda and her son Josh (who referred to Jim as “Bubba”) and daughter Cristy O’Connor, her husband Don and their three children; brother-in-law Danny (also “Bubba”) and his wife Debbie and their children Heather and Brian.  

To continue the celebration of Jim Gill’s legendary life, friends and family will gather at Grace Community Church for a service at 11:00 on Friday, March 22, 2024. Jim will be laid to rest at South Park Cemetery. If you’re a New Mexico Aggie, you are encouraged to wear New Mexico Aggie color or swag. 

To continue his storytelling legacy, you are invited to share Jim memories and stories in the box at Roswell Seed or at the service. In lieu of flowers, the Gills ask that his love for the community grow with donations directed to the Roswell Historical Society and the Roswell Humane Society.

Pallbearers: Phil Messick, Eric Glover, Bill Sloan, John Noble, Gar Thornton and Gordon Patton. 

Honorary Pallbearers: Josh Morrow, Danny Brabham, Bill Jones, Bob Entrop, Kent Henderson, Randy Barnes, Rick Stransky, Jim Manatt, Rob Manatt, Doug Burkstaller, Phil Cathy and The Tips Club.