James ‘Jimmy’ Edward McGregor, Jr.

Who was this mysterious man named McGregor that was often seen walking through Red Lodge? Though you may not have known Jimmy except for a friendly wave and a smile from the side of the road, he was not all that mysterious. He was a simple man, not much different than you and I.

James Edward McGregor, Jr. was born in Grand Haven, Michigan on Thursday, March 18, 1954 at 2:15 am. He weighed 5 pounds, 9 ½ ounces, and was 19 inches long. Records found in his baby book, written no doubt by his mother, demonstrate a love and infatuation with a baby boy the family called Junior.

As it is with most babies, special things were written about Jimmy like his first smile at one month old, the time he began to sit up around 4 ½ months old, and when he began trying to roll over at 7 ½ weeks old. His mother noted that he didn’t have much hair, but what hair he had “looked like it might be curly.”

“It’s sorta redish,” she wrote.

He is survived by 4 sisters, and his father, James Edward McGregor, Sr.

The man we knew as Jimmy his family called Junior. Not just because he was named after his father, but because of his small stature. Everyone who came to see him remarked how tiny he was as a baby. The name Junior was apparently given to him by his sister Patti, and his mother wrote Jimmy “didn’t seem to mind.”

While growing up in Spring Lake, Michigan, Jimmy was a member of the Boy Scouts of America in the Ottawa District where he attained the rank of 2nd class. He graduated from Spring Lake High School in 1973.

One of Jimmy’s distinguishing characteristics was his beard. You might find it interesting to note that on June 15 through June 21, 1969, Jimmie was “a member in good standing of the great society known as The Bearded Brothers.

In the desire to be a Booster for the Spring Lake Centennial Celebration, the above member (Jimmy) agrees to wear an official membership badge and to wear a derby or top hat before and/or after the Celebration Days, to take part in Caravan Booster Trips and other activities as directed by the Centennial Committee.”

So, the mysterious McGregor grew up much like many of us in Small Town USA with a loving family. As he grew older, he chose to live a very simple life and tried to disappear into the background. Little did he know the friends he would make and the lives he would touch in the small mountain town of Red Lodge, Montana.

Many of us would not let him disappear, but became his friends and neighbors. We learned that Jimmy was a kind-hearted soul, aiming to please those he loved and willing to serve others. For years Jimmy lived in what can only be described as a little wooden shack located on the side of a horse barn once owned by Don Coutts. While living there he helped take care of the horses that are used to pull the wagon through down town Red Lodge in the Summer months.

Holly Byler, who used to drive the wagon, remembers how Jimmy loved animals. She recalls how he used to talk to the team as he harnessed them. “Good girls, Emma and Lisbeth, good girls.”

Another thing Jimmy did not expect was to find a family in one of Red Lodge’s local churches. McGregor attended Church of the Rockies faithfully. Prior to Jimmy’s death, a visit to Church of the Rockies would surely have led to an encounter with him at the top of the stairs in the historic round barn. Upon this encounter one would hear him say, “Good morning. Welcome to Church of the Rockies. We’re glad you’re here today. Would you like a bulletin?”

As people looked into his dark, piercing eyes and observed his less than casual, very worn and dingy appearance, a number of thoughts flooded their minds. An impression was being made that would not soon be forgotten. For many, this impression was the beginning of a spiritual experience whereby they began to contemplate what church was really all about, and what it was not about. Without knowing it or needing any recognition for it, this is one of the many ways Jimmy touched lives in our community as well as hundreds of visitors to Church of the Rockies over the last 3 ½ years.

Jimmy was greatly loved by his church family and he fiercely reciprocated that love both verbally and by lending a helping hand in anyway that he could. Jimmy lived for 63 years and died in the mountains he loved on Feb. 19, 2018. His death is a great tragedy and a great loss to all who knew him. I don’t think he had any idea how many people cared about him. He will certainly be missed.

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Upcoming Events

  • Tuesday, July 16, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Now Group meets at the Bridger United Methodist Church, 222 W. Broadway (west entrance of church) Tuesday at 7 p.m.
  • Thursday, July 18, 2019 - 6:30pm
    The Montana Metal Rockfest will feature Zen, Kicking Karma, and Mr. Big with Trixter, July 18-20 at Boyd’s Garage on 7th Street, Red Lodge. The gigs will kick off at 6:30 p.m. each night.  There is no cover charge. Vendors will be on site. For tickets and information call (406) 446-1519. 
  • Thursday, July 18, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Meets every Thursday, 7 p.m. – 8 p.m. at the Red Lodge Area Community Foundation, 122 S. Hauser. It is open to all. 425- 1755.
  • Thursday, July 18, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Clarks Fork Group meets at St. Joseph’s Catholic Hall, north end of Montana Avenue, Thursday at 7 p.m.
  • Friday, July 19, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Rock Creek Group meets Tuesdays and Saturdays at 8 a.m. and Wednesdays and Fridays at 7 p.m. at Calvary Church, 9 N Villard, Red Lodge.
  • Monday, July 22, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Joliet Group meets at the Community Center Monday at 7 p.m.

The Carbon County News

Street Address:

11 N. Broadway, Red Lodge, MT 59068

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 970, Red Lodge, MT 59068

Phone: 406-446-2222

Fax: 406-446-2225

Toll-Free: 800-735-8843

Open: Monday-Friday, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.