Northern Wyoming Daily News - Serving the Big Horn Basin for over 100 years

James H. Sperry


March 8, 2016

James H. Sperry, aged 91, of Worland, died at Billings, Montana, March 3, 2016, following a brief illness. He was born in Des Moines, Iowa July 27, 1924. As an infant he moved with his parents to Oklahoma where he lived until of grade school age, returning then to the family farm in Grundy Center, Iowa. He went to school in Grundy Center until the last year of high school when he enrolled in the Kentucky Military School, Lynden Kentucky.

Jim served in the US Army in Central Europe and North Africa in WWII, and was Honorably Discharged in August, 1946, as a First Lieutenant in the US Army Infantry. In the course of his service he was awarded the American Campaign Medal, European African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, WWII Victory Medal, Army Occupation Medal, Germany, and the Bronze Battle Star. He went to college on the GI Bill.

Jim married Laura Marie Haren in Grundy Center, Iowa in 1948. He was a member in good standing of the Iowa State bar following his 1951 graduation from the State University of Iowa College of Law, Iowa City, Iowa.

Hoping to make it to Laurel, Montana, Jim and Laura ran out of money in Worland. Jim would periodically recall that they pulled over for the night, their very first in Wyoming, at the little gas station that now sits on Lawrence and Zelda Corbett's old place. Before he got a chance to take the Wyoming bar exam, he found work at Dakota Utilities in Worland. He was admitted to the Wyoming bar in May of 1952, having spent all his leisure hours the previous winter practicing the art of the crow call and shooting crows. His wife, Laura, fretted a little about that.

Jim worked with George Bremer, Attorney, in the early days. He partnered briefly with Robert Meyer and later with Dude Obert. Before the State of Wyoming established a Public Defender system, Jim defended more capital cases than any other lawyer in the State. He was elected and served one term as Washakie County Attorney, 1968 to '72. Jim often professed his faith in the general goodness of people and the efficiency of the jury system. He always kept a Lincoln quote under the glass on his desk that, to paraphrase, declared that one of the best qualities of a good lawyer was to prevent quarrels, and certainly not to promote discord.

He was preceded in death by his parents and his sister Margaret Bressler. He is survived by his wife, Laura Sperry, children George H. Sperry, Melinda Sperry Briggs (Bruce Briggs), Sally Sperry Fulfer (Calvin Fulfer), all of Worland, his grandson, Guy Fulfer (Rachel Hagey Fulfer), of Woody Creek, Colorado, his nephews Robert Johnson of Worland, J. B. Bressler of Grand Forks, North Dakota, a niece Rebecca Johnson of Bemidji, Minnesota, and various grand nephews and nieces.

Jims' remains have been cremated and the family will conduct private ceremonies.


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