James E. Katen, 82, of Gering, Nebraska passed away Wednesday, September 13, 2023, at Regional West Medical Center in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. Inurnment with military honors will be held at a later date at the Nebraska Veterans Cemetery in Alliance, Nebraska. Cremation has taken place in accordance with James’ wishes. Online condolences may be expressed by visiting www.reverencefuneralparlor.com.
James was born January 16, 1941, in Twin Falls, Idaho to Emmett and Joan (Perkins) Katen. The family relocated to Nebraska shortly after James was born and established their family farm near Chadron. James attended and graduated from Chadron Assumption High School.
He was drafted to the United States Army in July of 1964. James earned the Expert (Rifle) badge and was awarded the National Defense Service Medal and Vietnam Service Medal. He was honorably discharged in July of 1966. He then enrolled at a tech school program in Fargo, North Dakota where he received a diesel mechanic certification. A few years later in 1972, James enlisted with the Nebraska Army National Guard, serving for one year.
James met Barbara Jane Tolstedt in 1967 and the couple wed on June 29, 1968, in Alliance. Three sons were born to this union: Jon, Greg, and Troy. James and Barbara made their home in Gering for approximately seven years, but when James’ father died, they moved to Chadron to take over the family farm. Hemingford was their home for a short time in the nineties, and then they moved to Alliance where they remained for ten years. James and Barbara settled back in Gering in 2010 where he resided until his passing.
James embraced the farm and ranch life, and joyfully made that his primary career throughout his lifetime. He was knowledgeable in many areas of mechanics and capable of fixing just about anything. Working on vehicles and tractors was not only a skill of his, but something he also very much enjoyed. Many lessons were taught while working on vehicle repairs and projects together with his sons. James was a valued employee during the times he worked at Cannon Bros Ford and later Lockwoods.
His interest in mechanics developed a taste in him for classic cars. James was a lover of all animals. He raised cattle and pigs as a farmer but had numerous farm and household pets over the years. Family was of most importance to James. He was a man of few words, but occasionally he would share a bit of his dry humor. His soft-hearted ways made his love always known to those dearest to him.
Survivors include his wife of 55 years, Barbara Katen; sons, Jon Katen, Greg (Melissa) Katen, and Troy (Tawny) Katen; grandchildren, Caitlin, Cole, Paige, Morgan, Natalie, Brooke, McKenzie, and Bennie; two brothers, Joe Katen and Duane (Sally) Katen; sister, Teresa Katen; sisters-in-law, Linda (Kim) Ahlschwede and Peggy Katen; along with other extended family members and friends.
James was preceded in death by his parents, Emmett and Joan; in-laws, Wilber and Gertrude Tolstedt; brother, Ed; and sister and brother-in-law, Katherine and Jay Bradt.