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James R Lear

July 16, 1927 ~ January 13, 2024 (age 96) 96 Years Old

James Lear Obituary

James R. (Jim) Lear


James R. Lear of Farmersburg, IN passed away in his home with his daughter by his side, January 13, 2024.  Jim was 96 years young!


Jim was born in Terre Haute on July 16, 1927, to Charles and Nettie Lear.  He was preceded in death by his high school sweetheart and wife Wanda whom he married October 16, 1958.  Jim leaves behind cherished memories that will live in the hearts of his children Jill Lear Williams (Bill) and J. Richard (Dick) Lear II, (Lisa), granddaughters Maddi Williams Berry (Chris) and Rory Williams, niece Lana Hawhee Shuck, (Geoff) and nephew Phil Hawhee (Vicki, Lauren and Spencer), great niece Megan Shuck Rubey (Luke and Henry), great nephew Conner Shuck, 

Jim was a beloved husband, father, grandfather, uncle, business and civic leader, friend, neighbor and Christian.   


Jim graduated from Farmersburg High School in 1945.  He entered the U.S. Navy where he served two years until the end of WW II.  After the war Jim returned to Terre Haute to help his dad Charlie on the family farm while attending classes at ISU School of Business where he graduated in 1950.  Nearing the time of his graduation he took a job as a bank teller at Terre Haute Savings and Loan. Jim stayed at the bank and worked 39 years helping grow the firm where he became President and Chairman of the Board.  Under Jim’s leadership Terre Haute Savings and Loan grew changing its name to Mutual Federal Savings and Loan and establishing several branches in the surrounding communities.  The firm merged with Fifth Third Bank in 1988, after which Jim retired as President/Chairman in 1989.  During his tenure in banking, Jim established himself as a banker who would do what he could to help the customer fulfill their dreams. He was an honest, hardworking, friendly man who never met a stranger, and always had time to talk/meet with the customer.  As an administrator he never asked the bank staff to do anything he would not do.   On many occasions even as President of the bank he was seen shoveling the snow before the doors opened!


From his time at the bank, Jim was known in Vigo and Sullivan counties. Through the years, he was very active in the Vigo County community and served on boards of VNA, Bethesda Corporation, Westminster Village, and Hospice of the Valley. He was a member of the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce, Board of Realtors, and the Terre Haute Country Club.  In Sullivan County he was a member of the Advisory Board for Curry Township, a Board member of Westlawn Cemetery for over 20 years, and Commander of the American Legion for six years.  Additionally, he was a lifelong member of the Farmersburg Presbyterian Church, which he loved dearly and attended service each Sunday until shortly before his death.  He and his wife Wanda were married at the church on Sunday, October 16, 1958, and raised their children going to church every Sunday. After his beloved Wanda passed in March 2013, the church continued to be a very important part of his life. Jim loved to sing and was a member of the church choir until after his 90th birthday.  He also served on the session many times during his life including being an active member at the time of his death.  Jim considered his friends at the church, his family.


Jim loved sports and through the years was very generous with his time helping his children’s softball, Little League baseball and basketball teams.  Being a lifelong Hoosier, Jim loved basketball!  He played on his middle and high school teams, playing Varsity all four years of high school, where he earned the name of ‘Tuffy Lear’ for his aggressive play as point guard.  Jim continued his love of basketball after college where he and his dear friend Don Lynch refereed junior college basketball throughout the area.  


Jim was a longtime supporter of his alma mater, ISU.  He understood the importance of a good education.  In 2021 he established the James and Wanda Lear Family Business Scholarship at ISU Scott School of Business.  He directed the scholarship to help Sullivan County students attending ISU majoring in Business.   


For Jim, family came first.  He loved being with his family, and they loved being with him. Jim was an ‘on the go’ nonagenarian who was always looking forward to the next trip whether that was at home in Indiana for a fun outing to eat with nearby family or jumping on a plane to see his children and granddaughters in Austin or Tucson.  Jim’s most recent out of state travel was in July 2023 when he (accompanied by his niece Lana) attended his youngest granddaughter Rory’s white coat ceremony as she began Medical School in San Antonio.  It was a wonderful time for the family to celebrate and be together!  On Saturday morning Jim could be seen with his niece Lana and family enjoying breakfast at Pat’s Café or at Bobe’s on Sunday night. His niece affectionately called him her ‘wingman.’  Lana and her family were instrumental with his  care the last few years of his life.  


Jim was a proud American, who had a sense of humor, high integrity, strong faith, generous, and had an appreciation and caring for all.   He never parted or ended a phone call with his family without saying “I love you” or “thank you” when someone helped him. 


A celebration of life for Jim is scheduled for Saturday, March 9 to begin at 4:00 pm at the Farmersburg Presbyterian Church, 222 East Main Street.  A visitation will be held at the church the night before (Friday, March 8) from 5-7:00 pm.  In lieu of flowers, Jim requested donations be made to the Farmersburg Presbyterian Church, PO Box 626, Farmersburg, IN 47850, and cards may be sent to The Jim Lear Family, PO Box 131, Farmersburg, IN 47850.  The family would like to thank Jim’s neighbors the Powers,  the Boylls, and Paul Alexander among others and his church family who loved and helped him every day. In addition, the family is grateful for Hands that Serve,  with special thanks to Tammy Austin and Linda Christian – who assisted Jim with unbelievable care for almost four years until the time of his death.  We want to thank Gentiva Hospice and their amazing care team who assisted Jim the last few days of his life. Jim had a wonderful long life with so many friends, a wonderful family, and many people helping him to fulfil his desire to remain living in his home until the day he joined his heavenly family.  For Jim – it truly was A Wonderful Life!  

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March 8, 2024

5:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Farmersburg Presbyterian Church

Celebration of Life
March 9, 2024

4:00 PM
Farmersburg Presbyterian Church


Farmersburg Presbyterian Church
PO Box 626, Farmersburg IN 47850


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