June 22, 1929 ~ January 13, 2021
Threats by White Supremacists are nothing new. Jim Trimble got them while handling the segregation-busting Public Accommodations Bill in the Missouri House of Representatives.
“Public accommodations and equal opportunity bills, it was nip and tuck whether it was going to pass. In fact, the first session I was there it didn’t,” he told Will Sarvis in an interview for The Oral History Program of the State Historical Society of Missouri and the Western Historical Manuscript Collection, a Joint Collection of the University of Missouri and the State Historical Society of Missouri November 12, 1997. “I had made up my mind I was going to vote for it.”
“One night shortly before this bill came up, we’d had a legislative dance over at the Missouri Hotel. So I bummed a ride back with Ted McNeal and two other black representatives. And I said, “Let’s grab a bite to eat before we turn in.”
“They said, “Where can we go this time of night?” I said, “There’s Little Nell’s up here.” So we drive up there and I get out of the car, and they just sit there. I said, “Aren’t you guys coming in?”
“They said, “I don’t think they’ll serve us there.” I hadn’t even realized that that was the case. I said, “What do you want?” So I went in and ordered for the four of us and took it out and ate in the car. It really brought it home first hand of what some of the problems were, that most people weren’t even aware of, unless it impacted directly on them.”
Another action he took was probably the one he found most important involved the University of Kansas City, telling Mr. Sarvis, “Probably the best thing in the long term was getting UMKC into the state system.”
James G. Trimble passed away peacefully at home, surrounded by family the evening of January 13, 2021, leaving them with memories of a man who always wanted to make people happy. His speeches always started with a joke, dinner conversations devolved into pun-feats, and parties were spontaneous and filled with as many people as possible.
Jim Trimble was born to Dr. Francis Henshaw Trimble, Jr. and Ruth Greenfield Trimble and lived in Columbia, Kirksville and Chicago before the family returned to the Kansas City area while he was in high school. Each summer he returned to Kearney to work on the farm with his grandfather and great uncle, James Greenfield and Sam Greenfield.
He attended William Jewell College until he was called up in the Marine Reserve during the Korean Conflict.
He married Ann Hoover of Laclede, Mo., in 1950, and they had one daughter, Beth, and twin sons, Jim and Frank. The family settled on a farm west of Kearney. After leaving the Marines, he attended and graduated from the Kansas City Law School (now part of the University of Missouri-Kansas City). He celebrated 50 years as a practicing attorney in 2006.
A life-long Democrat, he was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives in 1956 to represent Clay County. He served four two-year terms, the last two terms as Majority Floor Leader.
After serving in the legislature, he spent several years lobbying for local governments, then returned to practicing law full time. Among the activities he was proudest of were:
• Working with Platte County Commissioners to create county rules and regulations for landfills, including county inspectors. He argued for the law at the Circuit Court Level, in Appellate Court and won at the Missouri Supreme Court.
• Cases in favor of environmental laws
• Defending landowners in condemnation suits at the site of Smithville Lake to make certain the landowners received just compensation
• Being part of the team that raised money to start a grassroots movement to build North Kansas City Hospital. The hospital opened March 30, 1958, as an 80-bed facility. Today, North Kansas City Hospital is now a 451-licensed bed, acute-care facility on 69 acres.
He was a member of the Marine Corps League, Lions Club, the Odd Fellows Club, Masonic Lodge and the Mounted Guard of the Ararat Shrine (together with his favorite horse, Lover) and was a board member and president of Kearney Commercial Bank and a board member of Platte Woods Bank.
Active in local levels of government, he was a member of the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) Solid Waste Committee, Clay County Planning and Zoning, and later, the Parkville Board of Aldermen.
He moved to Weatherby Lake in 1974 and was married to Lillie Craig in 1974, bringing daughters Debbie and Kerri into his family.
Jim and Lillie were partners in developing The Bluffs and Parkville Landing in Parkville, and working with Platte County Citizens for a Safe Community, in exposing unsafe trash hauling and dumping in a landfill west of Parkville.
Jim loved to entertain and cook with family and friends — from 2 to 200 — the more the merrier! He and Lillie also loved to travel the world with friends. One year he took her to Japan to show her the area where he was stationed at one time during the Korean War and visit the Temple Gardens in Kyoto. Their travels ended when he broke his hip in 2017 but provided many memories to share during this last year while at home because of health issues and covid.
A friend said, “Jim was a truly good man who made other people feel good just with his presence.” When he returned home from NKC Hospital on January 7th he looked around the living room and said “I love my life, I love where I am and I love those around me. We are truly lucky people.” We will all miss his loving support, laughter, twinkling blue eyes, conversations and eternal optimism.
He was predeceased by his parents; sister, Carolyn Kretsinger; and daughter, Kerri Craig Hunter; grandson, Nathan Hunter; and three brothers in-law, Ernest Rutledge of Hampton, Va., Paul Slater of Camp Point, Ill., and Paul Dean Rutledge of Springfield, Ill.
He is survived by his wife of 47 years, Lillie Rutledge Craig Trimble; sons, Jim (Jackie) Trimble of Everett, Wash., and Frank (Rex) Trimble of Corpus Christi, Texas; daughters, Beth Trimble (Jim) McPherson and Debbie Craig; grandchildren, Brian (Nikki) Trimble, David (Ally) Trimble, and William (Kat) Trimble, Sarah McPherson and Sam McPherson, and Kristina Hunter; great granddaughters, Charli, Demri and Tori Trimble, and great grandson, Tylor Brashear; sisters in-law, Marilyn (Paul) Slater and Linda Rutledge of Camp Point, Ill., Nancy (Don) Johnson of Clermont, Fla., Patricia (Don) Ament of Sutter, Ill., and Jan (Paul) Rutledge of Springfield, Ill.; brother in-law, Marvin (Rosie) Rutledge of Pontiac, Ill.; and many nieces and nephews.
A Celebration of Life will be held when it is possible to do so safely. Inurnment will be at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Kearney, Mo.
The family thanks the staff of North Kansas City Hospital and the excellent hospice staff for their loving care and comfort given to Jim and family. Memorials may be made to Kansas City Hospice and Palliative Care North.
Arrangements in care of Fry-Bross & Spidle Funeral Home, Kearney.
Our Sincere Condolences
Lillie, Beth, Jim, Frank & Debbie. We are so sorrow to hear of Uncle Jim’s passing. Our prayers are with you at this time. Jim was a great story teller and Ii loved to hear his stories. Love you all of you.
Martha & Jason Ransom & Family
Our thoughts and prayers are with you all and your families.
Lynn and Tom Noyes