James Francis “Jim” Hand

Laramie, Wyoming lost one of its most loyal advocates on Sunday, January 28.  James Francis (Jim) Hand felt Wyoming was next door to Paradise, and now he is next door. He was the unofficial Laramie Chamber of Commerce champion.  The only things that were dearer to his heart were his family and his faith.

Jim was born in Wagner, SD on August 30, 1932 to Mary (Rose) and Homer Hand.  He spent his school years in Casper and received a B.A. from the University of Wyoming.  He was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army in 1955 after serving in Korea.  He later worked as a logger in the Northwest and relocated to Los Angeles where he became Vice-President of Flight Scheduling for Western Airlines.  Missing Wyoming dearly, he returned to Laramie in 1967 to earn his Juris Doctorate.  He practiced as an attorney, drafted state legislation, and finished his career at the UW Registrar’s Office.

In 1963, Jim married his soul mate and best friend, Sharon Ryan in their shared hometown of Casper. They raised seven children, living most of their 54 years together in Laramie.

Jim was an avid student of history, a lover and expert user of language, and an inventor of games and puzzles.  In 1976, he received a US Patent for his topographical puzzle “The Sword in the Stone”, which has baffled many locals, and which was sold throughout the United States.  Through his game and puzzle company The Grail, Inc., he told solvers of the Sword in the Stone that they were entitled to the appellation “Himself” (or “Herself”) upon providing proof of their success.  Always signing correspondence to his clue-seeking customers as “Himself”, it is by this name that all his grandchildren came to know him.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by his son Manus (Angela) of Parker, Colorado, and daughters Celise (Andy) Swanson of Norfolk, Nebraska, Laura (Jay) Donahue of Newark, Delaware, and Joy (Andy) Thompson, Alanna (Laurence) Coca, Mollie Hand (Dan Fetsco), and Harmony (Tony) Savoia, all of Laramie.

“Himself” had 21 grandchildren (ranging in age from eight weeks to 28 years):  Kayla and Jameson Hand; Lauren (Dustin) Myers; Erin Swanson; Serafina and Veronica Donahue; Drew (Bre), Bailey, and Pierce Thompson; Rebecca (Jonah) Meyers; Colin Gaines; Alexis and Anabel Coca; Adelaide, Paul, and Nora Steinke; Jackson and Peter Fetsco; Preston Wittmer; Kai Horton; and our precious angel Jessica Coca who was waiting above to greet Jim.  He also had six great-grandchildren (Liam, Roady, Sylas, Jude, Zion, and Ada).

Jim left behind two brothers, Jerry Hand of Casper and Pat Hand of Cheyenne, and a sister, Frances McCarty of Denver.  He was preceded in death by his brothers Dick and Joe, and his sister, Ardis Heuer. Jim also had many nieces and nephews, including his friend and namesake Jim Heuer of Laramie.

Jim was a longtime member of St. Laurence O’Toole Catholic Church, the B.P.O. Elks, and the Laramie Kiwanis Club.

The Rosary is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, February 1st at St. Laurence.  Funeral Mass will be held Friday, February 2nd at 11:00 a.m. followed by interment at Greenhill Cemetery and a dinner in Laramie Montessori School. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in the name of “Himself” to a charity of your choice.

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Condolences (11)

  • Patrick Finnerty

    Jim Hand was a great man, and I always was happy to run into Jim over the years, even though our paths didn't cross as often as I would have liked. I have so many great memories of Jim and his amazing family back in the day- our families had so many great times together, hanging out on a Saturday Night at 914 Park, adventures near the fabled "Flat Spot". I learned a lot from Jim. Talk about a man with a twinkle in his eye- nobody had a better sense of humor than Jim Hand, a truly witty, intellectual giant of a man. Everyone who knew him will miss Jim immensely. This is sad news, but it gives me a good reason to search the attics of my life for so many good memories. Jim is now eternal and even greater than before. God Bless All of the Hands. Pat Finnerty

  • Ly Whit

    We want to express our heartfelt condolences to all of “Jim’s” family. Even though only a short time has passed since your loss, comforting words will continue to keep you strong in the days, months, and years to come. May our Creator, "... the God of all comfort " be with you during your sad days and give you the strength to cope with your thoughts. Copy and paste the video below and in the disquieting days ahead, take a look at it. This explains the condition of our dead loved ones and the hope of our reunion. https://www.jw.org/en/publications/videos/#en/mediaitems/VODMinistryTeachings/docid-502017858_1_VIDEO

  • Anonymous

    Dear Sharon and family: Our thoughts and prayers are with you during your time of loss. Jan & Don Anderson, NCHS Class of 1950

  • Anonymous

    Sharon, our thoughts and prayers are for you today and at Mass this weekend. As you know Jim and I had many discussions over the years about anything and everything. He patiently taught me how to use e-mail which was a set-up for whatever topic we were discussing. Occasionally we agreed, however, that wasn't as much fun as it was to disagree. Although we were both born in 1932, he was born first and he never never let me forget that! We join others in celebrating his life and know "himself' is now safely in the Hand(s) of the Lord. Cousin Paul and Linda Loos

  • John Nutter

    Jim was a UW colleague of mine in Knight Hall. He always had some interesting fact to share and a twinkle in his eye. It was Jim that helped me recover from a closet a Conrad Schwiering original oil painting that had been acquired by Ralph McWhinnie to illustrate the job the registrar. The painting now hangs in the conference room in Knight Hall (with Jim's historical narrative attached). Jim's knowledge of UW history and the world in general was amazing, and fortunately he loved to share that knowledge. Our community is better for his having been among us.

  • Laura Almendares

    Having worked with Jim for years, I got to know the intelligent, kind and helpful person he was. Always willing to join in the busy work and stand right along side you to complete it. He never argued, asked why or complained. He was a man of integrity, knowledge and inspiration. Always wanting to do the right thing. He had to deal with people that did not want him to help and did not value his worth. But though all that, he remained the same. Never complaining and just doing what he knew was right. Because of this he will be remembered and cherished. Sharon and family, I know you will miss him but know that the Angels in Heaven have welcomed him with open arms. May he Rest in Peace and many, many blessings to you and the family.

  • Marian Karch Stordahl

    Please know that all your family is in our prayers. Jim Hand will be missed.

  • Lee Smathers and family

    Our thoughts, love, and appreciation are with you today. My first thought was guilt that I had not made the effort to drive up and visit him on my last trip to Colorado. My loss, not his. I did absorb enough wisdom from him to say “thank you” when we last met years ago, but I had yet to achieve the skill to explain the thanks. I will try to explain that gratitude now. I’m sure Jim heard the disjointed thoughts behind my sincere thanks for his kindness and efforts when we last met. Himself was a life lesson in patiently understanding, explaining and demonstrating the wisdom of history and clichés. His life was not a cliché', his wisdom and appreciation of history gave meaning to the everyday cliché'. A few Examples: If “the exception makes the rule”: “Ignorance is bliss”, he provided a perspective of knowing and thinking could also provide bliss. He lived and demonstrated that the frustrations of intelligence and striving to understand didn’t prevent happiness. It in fact could enhance it. All you need do is continue to learn. “Behind every great man is a great woman” and “I would rather be lucky than good”. Herself was the power behind him. He was a lucky man and could not have achieved what he did without her. What is so great about this, he knew it and shared that fact with anyone who would listen. As in all good luck, his luck rubbed off on those he interacted with who would listen. A good Irishman. The bottom line: Jim would take the time to do the right thing for everyone he interacted with. He and Sharon had a way of making you feel special about yourself even though they did this for the thousands of people they interacted with. My favorites: Mistakes were opportunities to learn from and life was something to enjoy and celebrate and live. A life well lived Mr. Hand! Thank you for sharing yours with me. Lee Smathers and family

  • Barbara Powell

    I have known Jim and Sharon for many years as a coworker at UW. He was a wonderful, delightful man to be around and I always left his office with a smile on my face. I will always have fond memories of him. My prayers and thoughts go out to the family, Joy I am thinking of you.

  • Chuck and Tina Hensala

    So sorry for your loss---you are in our thoughts and prayers.

  • Dennis & Lucile Taylor

    Hand family, I did not know Jim, but for many years, we delighted in knowing members of the Hand family. We would have loved to have known him! He's at peace now and gets to watch over his extended family from that loftier perch.