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James Tilbert Ledbetter

March 15, 1929 November 25, 2020
James Tilbert Ledbetter
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Obituary for James Tilbert Ledbetter

In a season and spirit of thanksgiving, we share the bittersweet news of Jim Ledbetter’s death, and by God’s grace and his faith, his resurrection in Christ Jesus his savior.

He was known variously as JT, Jim and Led.  Jim was born to Nellie Mae (Bolton) and James Jackson “Jack” Ledbetter near Elmwood TN, the elder brother of Felix and Paul.  In 1935 the family moved to Chowchilla CA where the boys were raised, Jack ran several Union 76 gas stations, and Nellie ran the household.  His tendencies toward leadership began in school and on the football field of Chowchilla Union Schools, Class of ‘47. A half-ownership of one station helped pay his way through college.

At Linfield College in McMinnville OR, Jim graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in religion with the Class of ’51.  He was active in student leadership, for a brief time on the football field, in the Alpha Tau Omega (later Theta Chi) fraternity, and the chaplain’s activities.  While preaching during a Linfield religious ministry outreach event he met the musically talented Faithe Colene Oestreicher.  Their courtship resulted in marriage on June 13, 1952.

Jim and Faithe moved to Berkeley CA where he graduated with a Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1954 from Berkeley Baptist Divinity School (now Berkeley School of Theology).  During and following seminary, Jim and Faithe were blessed and sustained by a wonderful group of life-long clergy peers and friends around the Northwest.  The self-titled “Berkeley Bash” met annually for fellowship and food for over 50 years.

Ordained to the Christian ministry by the First Baptist Church of Chowchilla, Jim pastored several American Baptist Churches (ABC), including Yakima WA, Richland WA, Honolulu HI, Port Angeles WA, and Redding CA.  At each church he was instrumental in building creative and functional facilities and/or progressive ministries (including Dial-a-Prayer in Hawaii).  Faithe’s skills and contributions in all aspects of church music complemented Jim’s pastoral leadership.  Later in his ministry he served as a denominational leader in the Northwest Inland Empire and Southern CA, retiring in 1994 as Executive Minister of the ABC of Oregon.  He was awarded an honorary doctorate from the seminary in Berkeley.  Their vast annual collection of Christmas cards and letters testify to the positive impact they made on countless lives.

Over the years they enjoyed hiking and camping in the Olympics and Cascades with family, friends, and church youth (his REI membership number was only four digits long!).  The family enjoyed boating and water sports while the kids were in school.  Annual month-long vacations were often combined with long road trips to visit national parks and extended family.  Described one time as a “pastor in Pumas,” Jim was a jogger; his major achievement was completing the Boston Marathon at age 50.  For years they delighted in and relaxed at their shared condo at Otter Crest on the Oregon Coast.  After retirement, Jim and Faithe loved winter RVing, especially exploring the deserts and environs of the great Southwest.  Several international trips were very meaningful.

Jim enjoyed cars, especially new cars; they may have numbered over two dozen.  He never met a chicken wing he didn’t like, loved cooking hearty outdoor breakfasts, and was a multi-year Linfield season ticketholder.  Jim preached and advocated for fairness, dignity, and justice, expected people to behave with honesty and integrity, and had a keen sense of right and wrong.  He liked to tease but had a quick temper; and just so you know, if he called you “Pal,” it probably wasn’t a compliment.  He dispensed corny jokes and silly songs, but did not like being challenged.  He was a 30-year member of Rivergate Community Church in Portland, OR, and served as the unofficial officiant for extended family weddings and funerals.  Jim was devoted to and utterly dependent on his “Faith-E.”

Jim was preceded in death by his parents and two sisters-in-law Mary and Joan.  He is survived by his wife of 68 years Faithe, daughter Karen (Raymond), son Tim (Gail) and son Greg (Jan), his brothers Felix and Paul and his brother-in-law Archie.  His legacy includes favorite grandchildren Alex, Cameron (Megan), Harrison (Sharon), Jordan (Jessica), Kathryn (Christopher), Rebecca (Beau), Vanessa and 11 of the finest great-grandchildren. 

Jim died from COVID-related complications.  His body was put to rest in the good earth at Providence Pioneer Cemetery near Scio, OR in a private family ceremony.  In a few weeks, a public Zoom Memorial Service will be announced through Weddle Funeral Service, Stayton, OR (, who are entrusted with the arrangements.  Memorials are encouraged to the Homeless Ministry Fund of Rivergate Community Church, 4737 N. Lombard, Portland, OR 97203.

Requiesat in pace, Dad.

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Cemetery Details


Providence Cemetery Final Resting Place

35787 Richardson Gap Rd, Lebanon, OR 97355
Scio, Oregon 97374

35787 Richardson Gap Rd, Lebanon, OR 97355 Scio 97374 Oregon
United States

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