James “Jim” Vetter


James Michael Vetter, 58, died unexpectedly but peacefully in his sleep at home on October 13, 2023. Known as “Jim” by family, friends and coworkers, his servant heart touched many throughout his life.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11:00 AM on Friday, October 20, 2023, at the Church of St. Anne, Bismarck, ND.  Burial will follow at the St. Philip Neri Catholic Cemetery, Napoleon, ND.

Visitation will be held Thursday, October 19, 2023, from 6:00 – 7:00 PM at Church of St. Anne, with a Rosary beginning at 7:00 PM followed by a Vigil Service and a time of sharing memories.  Visitation will continue at the church one hour prior to the service on Friday.

Jim was born in Wishek, ND on 29 December 1964 to Michael Jr. and Diane (Bitz) Vetter. He spent his formative years on the family farm in Napoleon milking cows, making and hauling square bales, and fixing a lot of fence. He graduated from Napoleon High School in 1983. He attended and graduated from NDSU in 1987 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology and Business. In 2001 Jim earned a Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration and Management from Central Michigan University.

Hardworking and ambitious, Jim worked his way through college helping on the farm and working road construction, but he discovered his true calling when he worked as a youth counselor at Camp Grassick. Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch discovered Jim in 1988 and hired him as a live-in house parent for at-risk youth at their Minot facility.  Jim served The Ranch in several different capacities during the last 35 years. He worked his way up to Vice President of Treatment Services and Government Relations, a position he held until his death.  In 2022, Jim received the prestigious Walt Odegaard Leadership Award, presented by the North Dakota Association of Nonprofit Organizations (NDANO).

Jim was involved with many community boards and committees including the ND Association of Residential Child Care Facilities, the Board of Directors of Missouri Valley Coalition for Homeless People (MVCHP), the ND Dual-Status Youth Initiative Committee, the Bismarck State College Human Services Advisory Committee, and the ND Association of Nonprofit Organization’s Public Policy Committee. He was also appointed by Governor Doug Burgum to serve on the Governor’s Prevention Advisory Council on Drugs and Alcohol (GPAC).

While working at the Ranch, Jim met his match in his co-worker, Sara Eaton. They were married on September 27, 1997 in Minot and eventually made their home in Bismarck. Jim and Sara added two beautiful daughters to their family, Jessie and Sammie.

Jim had many interests and hobbies outside of work. You could often find him working on his immaculate yard, tinkering with his antique 2-cylinder John Deere tractors, riding his Kawasaki dirt bike or Harley Softail, hunting goose, duck or deer, or camping with his extended family. He also thoroughly enjoyed making people laugh telling his corny “dad” jokes.

Grateful to have shared Jim’s life are his wife of 26 years, Sara and daughters Jessie (18) and Sammie (15). Jim will also be deeply missed by his mother Diane Vetter; sister Lenae (Myron) Schneider; brother Gary (Rose); sister Lynnette; brother-in-law Brady; and mother-in-law Carol Eaton as well as many nieces, nephews, cousins, aunts, uncles and friends. He was preceded in death by his father; sister Leicha (Jim) Schmidt; father-in-law Larry Eaton; both sets of grandparents; and several aunts and uncles.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in Jim’s name to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

So sorry for your loss. Sending prayers for his loved ones. May the Lord grant you peace and comfort during this difficult time. Heaven has gained an amazing Angel ❣️

Sara,Jessie & Sammie, and the Ranch family…my heart hurts for you all. Please keep your memories close to your heart. Hugs and prayers to you all. Kim Schlag and family

I am so sorry for your loss. Jim was an amazing man- one of the truly most unselfish and kind souls I have ever met. I will continue to keep you in my prayers.

Jim was truly a man of faith, loving husband and father, trusted friend, and remained steadfast as an advocate for children and those in need without a voice. I will forever be impacted by his kindness and belief in my work at the Ranch. Prayers of comfort and grace to all who knew and loved Jim.
Until we meet again my friend.

Last edited 6 months ago by Marcia

I am so sorry to hear of Jim’s passing. He was a servant leader who touched many lives in a positive way. My thoughts and prayers are with you Sara and girls.

We lost one of the good ones on Friday. I’m so sorry to hear Jim passed. He was always a helpful and good person.

I’m so sorry to hear about Jim’s passing. He always had a smile in his face and always made me feel welcomed at work. May he rest in peace

My heart aches hearing Jim has left earth side. He was truly one of the most selfless people I’ve had the honor to work with. He was kind, gentle, and understanding. He always knew how to make people laugh and lighten the mood. He will be missed by so many people. Thoughts and love to Sara, Sammie, Jessie and all of his DBGr family

So sorry for your loss. Sending hugs and prayers.

Sara and family,
I am so sorry for your loss. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

Sara & Girls,

I am so very sorry for your loss. Sending prayers and wishes for peace and comfort at this difficult time. I will be praying for all of you in the days and months ahead. Hugs from across the miles.

Prayers and thoughts for you and your family.. I heard today about Jim’s death.. my heart goes out to you. I believe that death is hardest on us left behind.. I had the privilege of working with Jim a very kind, intelligent and gentle soul. Sara, Jessie and Sammie he gleaned whenever he mentioned your name.. tears and hugs..

My heartfelt prayers to Sara, Jessie and Sammie. Jim was the director of DBGR Western Plains when I worked there as a case manager. So sorry for your loss. My thoughts are with you!

Love and prayers to Sara, Sammie, Jessie and the large extended Ranch Family. Jim was an amazing person and such a great mentor to me in all my years there. My world was a better place with him in it. I hope your love and memories can uplift you on the hard days you are experiencing and to come. Lots of Love!
Nikki Lambert

Journey well my friend, rest at peace. Prayers for your family. See you on the other side

So sorry to hear of your husband and father’s passing. I know how hard it is to have a parent pass away. My thoughts are with your family.

We are deeply sorry to hear about the passing of your loved one… Our deepest sympathy goes out to the Vetter family at this difficult time. May happy memories of James bring you comfort at this sad time. We are here for you – anytime you need.

Jim’s family,
So sorry for the loss of your husband, father, brother. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. Such a loss. At 58 we can only imagine he had many more good years to be with you. God bless and hold you tightly today. 🙏🙏