James “Jim” Tatum, age 60, passed away on January 27, 2019. He was surrounded by family at his home in Bishop as he concluded his courageous battle with cancer.
Jim, a lifetime Bishop resident, was an incredible husband, father, brother, and community contributor. His love of the local community was evident in all of his professional and personal endeavors where he always went above and beyond to do for others.
His accomplishments were numerous across his career: as a rancher, in his 20-year tenure as the CEO of the Tri-County Fairgrounds, as the Inyo County Deputy Public Works Director, and most recently as the Bishop City Administrator. His generous and make-it-happen spirit could also be seen in his roles as a Bishop Little League and Bishop Union High School Baseball Coach, a member of the local school board, and the beloved “tractor man” at the California High School Rodeo State Finals and other fair arena events. He was also known for his witty and playful sense of humor, optimistic attitude, and that unmistakable whistle while he walked. His impact on the community will be enduring, but his presence will be sorely missed.
Jim’s loving family will continue to carry forward his memory, values, and commitment to community. They include his wife, Donna Tatum; daughter and son-in-law Kelsie Tatum Martinez and Jaime Martinez; son and future daughter-in-law Keith Tatum and Sara Galligher; brother and sister-in-law Von and Jayne Tatum; brother Lee Tatum; his family in-love, Polly, Larry, and Robert Renfro and Linda Holcomb; and many nieces and nephews. Jim was preceded in death by his parents, Don and Betty Tatum of Bishop.
A Celebration of Life will be held for Jim on Sunday, February 10th at 1 p.m. at the Tri-County Fairgrounds in Bishop. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that you consider donating in Jim’s memory to either the Bishop Union High School Jim Tatum Memorial Scholarship (301 North Fowler Street, Bishop, CA 93514) or the Friends of the Tri-County Fair Jim Tatum Memorial Fund (PO Box 607, Bishop, CA 93515).
The Sheet published articles on Tatum’s illness and subsequent retirement in 2018.
Here are some exerpts:
From a statement Tatum gave in August on his retirement:
“Nearly four years ago I was given the opportunity to become the Administrator of the City of Bishop. I knew that it was my dream job, but what I never could have imagined then was just how much this city team and our work together would come to mean to me…
As you all know, I was diagnosed with brain cancer in January… My family and I have been overwhelmed by your kindness, well wishes, and prayers. I can’t imagine having to face this trial without this community’s support…
Four years has not felt like nearly long enough; I’m not ready to be done yet.
From an article on his retirement party in October:
He was almost universally liked and respected by many, known for his calm approach to issues, and his dry sense of humor…
Police Chief Ted Stec said, “I was proud to periodically brag to my peers that I felt very lucky to have a city administrator who was good to work with, pro-police, and had a dry sense of humor as well!”
Bishop Council Member Laura Smith said, “Jim Tatum is a deeply committed man with a profound work ethic. During his twenty years at the Tri-County Fairgrounds he greatly improved the fairgorunds themselves, the fair event, and many of the other events that take place at the fairgrounds. In the four years that Jim spent at the helm of the City of Bishop, he accomplished more than most people could do in twice that time!”
The City’s mayor, Karen Schwartz, said, “It was a privelege working with Jim as a new member on the city council. Jim was so motivated to get things done and eagerly welcomed my ideas.” We shared an enthusiasm and drive for the future possibilities of Bishop. Jim is an effective leader… a visionary, and the City of Bishop is better off because of him, and his legacy will endure for years to come.”