10254 W. Carlton Bay | Garden City, ID 83714

James Matthew Harper November 1, 1965 - July 19, 2020

James Matthew Harper

On Sunday, July 19th, 2020, James Mathew Harper, exceptional husband, father, son, brother, and friend, passed away at home, surrounded by his family. Jim fought a courageous battle against cancer, keeping a positive attitude throughout.

Jim was born on November 1st, 1965 in Sun Valley, Idaho to Butch and Penny Harper. Known as Jimmy, Jimbo, Harp or Harper, Jim was a passionate fly fisherman, hunter, guide, athlete, gardener, and chef. Jim was also an artist and spent his career as an art teacher at Riverstone International School.  He touched hundreds of kids with his calm manner encouraging them to follow their passion and be their best self.  Jim was positive and reassuring, steady and kind, and brought out the best in his students.

As with many things, Jim elevated storytelling to an art form.  Hearing him tell a story transported the listener to a river-trip campfire, a high country ridge, or an adventure with his family and dogs. He spent many years as a guide on the Middle Fork of the Salmon, and his skills learned there were passed on when leading so many outdoor experiences with family, students, and friends.  To this day he holds the distinction of being the only person to ever pelt an enraged moose in the rump with a frog to save a group of campers. Jim left an everlasting mark on those that were privileged to spend time with him and his presence will be sorely missed.

He is survived by his wife Jill, his 2 sons, Harrison and Henry, his mom and dad, Butch and Penny, his brother Patrick, niece and nephew Eloisa and Ben, his mother and father in law, Dale and Donna and his dogs, Belle and Stanley.

Arrangements are under the direction of Bowman Funeral Parlor of Garden City.


  1. REPLY
    Kelli and Hailey Wood says

    We learned from you! One thing we will both remember is that Jim Harper was a teacher you could talk to about anything. He never refused to have a conversation if he thought it would help you.

  2. REPLY
    Pamela Grant says

    I was lucky enough to share a bit of Jim’s younger years with him on the Sun Valley Nordic Ski Team in the Ketchum area. Jim always was an amazing individual from the moment I knew him. He was blessed with an incredibly positive attitude that sucked us all in. He was a beautiful skier who could not only nordic ski well but ski alpine on edge-less nordic skis down the mountain as good as the best alpine skiers. I remember once at nordic team practice we had to hike up Elkhorn mountain when it was particularly icy. There were some slalom gates that were set up down its face that day. While the rest of us gingerly struggled our way down the mountain on our edge-less skis, he was effortlessly kicking butt through the gates with perfect form!
    In addition, at the age where us kids were just learning how to behave civilly. Jim had already been born with a proclivity for kindness. He never bought in to the games of being snobby or better than anyone else. He wouldn’t stoop that low.
    The last time I saw Jim was a few years ago in WINCO and he was his usual happy self talking about teaching art, his family, and such. I had no idea until today that he had cancer. At least, I am glad that I got to be in a piece of his childhood. Love to Penny and Butch and his wife and kids that I never was privileged to have met. May he live on with your happy memories! Sincerely, Pam Grant

    • REPLY
      Pat McFeely says

      Dear Butch and Penny,
      I am so saddened to learn of your loss. My condolences to you, Patrick and all of Jim’s family. Sincerely, Pat McFeely

  3. REPLY
    Jack and Patty See says

    Dear Jill, Patty and I want you to know we share your sadness and value the good times we had with you and Jim. We all grew up together in a wonderful time and place. I dont know who spent more time in the Redfish dining room. You, or he. What a beautiful romance! We want to send our best to your in-laws, Butch and Penny. We are far away, but love you just the same. Jack and Patty

  4. REPLY
    L Schernthanner says

    Dear Harper Family, I was saddened to learn of Jim’s recent passing and wish to extend my deepest condolences to you all. I hold fond memories of Jim from Ketchum school days and was always pleased to randomly cross paths with him in adult life. His genuine friendliness, smile, and good nature shine bright in my mind. My heart goes out to you, Liesl

  5. REPLY
    Fernanda Sammis says

    Dear Harper Family,
    Our hearts are heavy with the news of Jim’s passing. We knew him best when he was a young boy at Sam’s School and he exhibited then all the fine attributes that have been so lovingly spoken of through out his life.
    Our thoughts and prayers are with each of you.
    Fernanda & Don Sammis

  6. REPLY
    J Lafleur says

    Dear Penny, Butch, Patrick and Jim’s loving Wife Jill,and sons.
    My heart goes out to all of you during this time of sorrow. Jim was only eight months older than me, but because of our Mother’s closeness we were playmates from the crawling years forward! Soon we taught our younger brothers the mischief that we had discovered when we were their ages! You two were always a welcome site our parties; conversely, you made us feel welcome to your’s as well.
    In the interest of NOT incriminating myself, I will not re-hash some of those memories to maintain the innocence of the others involved!
    Butch and Penny, You already know this, but you raised a great kid, that evolved into a great man!

  7. REPLY
    Kristen Raecke says

    Our hearts are breaking for your family! So sorry to hear of Jim’s passing. He will live on through all of the lives he touched. Please accept our most sincere condolence.
    ❤️ ❤️❤️ Kristen, Jackson, and Bella Raecke

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