James Billy Loer, 96-1/2, died on Saturday, October 17, 2020 at the Washington State Veterans Home in Spokane, Washington. He was born on January 20, 1924 in Charlotte/Mecklenburg County, North Carolina to Charles Loer and Lillie Belle (Hagler) Loer. The children born to Charles and Lillie Belle were Mozell Jane (Loer) Gaboury, Sarah Elizabeth (Loer) Morris, James Billy Loer, Robert Lee Loer, Walter Daniel Loer, Mary Hazel Loer, Charles Harold Loer, Anna Geraldine Loer. James was the oldest surviving sibling.
James was raised during the Great Depression, but always said that they did not know they were poor because they had lots of love in the family. James’ father, Charles, was a carpenter, and James learned the trade from him. James’ mother named him Billy for his middle name after the great preacher Billy Sunday. James was raised in the Baptist Church where his mother and siblings attended. He fully gave his life to the Lord after his time of service in World War II.
James early school years were sporadic due to the need to work on the farm, and he had to “stay over” 3rd grade for a second time because he didn’t make it to school often enough to complete the work. The family moved to town and James enjoyed playing football at Winecoff High School in Concord, North Carolina. James also worked at Cannon Mills in Kannapolis until January 1941 when he joined the US Navy.
James joined the US Navy on January 24, 1941 - just 4 days after he turned 17 years old. He took his basic training at Norfolk, Virginia, and then was assigned to the Naval shipyard in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, while the ship that he was assigned to, the USS Washington (BB-56), was in the final stages of completion. The USS Washington was a North Carolina class battleship that was commissioned on May 15, 1941 (which James was in attendance). The USS Washington was initially deployed to Britain to reinforce the Home Fleet, which was tasked with protecting convoys carrying supplies to the Soviet Union. James often talked about Murmansk, Russia and how cold it was when they docked there. The USS Washington was recalled to the US in July 1942 and refitted and transferred to the Pacific Fleet. They were immediately sent to the South Pacific to reinforce Allied units fighting in the Guadalcanal campaign. They saw action at the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal on the night of November 14-15, 1942 in company with the battleship USS South Dakota and four destroyers. After USS South Dakota inadvertently drew heavy Japanese fire by sailing too closely to their squadron, the USS Washington took advantage of the Japanese preoccupation with the USS South Dakota to inflict fatal damage on the Japanese battleship Kirishima and the destroyer Ayanami, while avoiding damage herself. The attack by USS Washington disrupted Admiral Nobutake Kondos planned bombardment of marine positions at Guadalcanal and forced the remaining Japanese ships to withdraw.
James remained in the service of the US Navy for the duration of World War II, completing his service on the USS Conserver (ARS -39) a Bolster-class rescue and salvage ship. James received his honorable discharge from the US Navy in October 1945 after earning 13 battle stars – of which he proudly displayed on his favorite hat in later years. During his time of service he also earned the right to be called a “Blue Nose” – designating that he crossed the Arctic Circle; a “Shellback” – designating that he crossed the Equator; and belonged to the “Order of the Ditch” – designating sailors who passed through the Panama Canal. He continued to serve in the Merchant Marines with his brother Robert Loer. When he found that he had his fill of life on the open water, he decided to return home to Kannapolis, and to his work at Cannon Mills.
While employed at Cannon Mills, James began to feel the strong call of God in his life that had first began while on ship during WWII. The story that he shared with his daughter was that “often the Navy would play movies for sailors who gathered on the main deck in the evenings. One evening, they played a movie called “One Foot in Heaven” which featured a minister who began a series of moves from one small-town church to another while facing different challenges at each one. James said that God spoke to him during that movie – showing him that this would be what his life was to be – a minister who would pastor many churches and face different challenges at each one.” As he pondered this Heavenly message (after returning home to Kannapolis), he started attending home prayer meetings and Bible studies. He gave his life to Jesus and soon realized that he also felt God’s call to become a minister of the Gospel. He first enrolled at Lee College in Cleveland, Tennessee to study to become a minister, and later transferred to Holmes Bible College in Greenville, South Carolina.
While at home in Kannapolis for a visit, he was scheduled to minister on the radio, where a lady’s trio was scheduled to sing before he ministered. One of the pretty ladies caught his eye, Helen Miller. He recognized Helen from their work at Cannon Mills, where Helen worked as a timekeeper. While they both claim that their courtship was not “dating” – it did involve sitting together at church, picnics, and spending time together talking. Both James and Helen loved their Lord and wanted to serve in the ministry. They married on January 18, 1948 and moved to Greenville, South Carolina while James completed his courses at Holmes Bible College. Their son, Eric Walter Loer, Sr. was born to them in December 1948. James graduated with a Bachelor of Sacred Literature in May 1951.
After James’ graduation, they accepted their first church in Stites, Idaho and moved west. Over the course of 60+ years of ministry with the Church of God (Cleveland, TN) they held pastorates in the following cities: Byington, TN; Stites, ID; Sandpoint, Idaho (3x); Spokane, Washington (2x); Longview, WA; Coeur d Alene, ID (3x); Wallace, ID; Livingston, MT; Niceville, FL,; DeKalb, IL; and Ashboro, NC. While living in Sandpoint, ID (the first time) their daughter, Candace Rebecca Loer was born to them in February 1962. Their ministry specialized in building congregations and structures, utilizing James’ carpentry skills. They left their mark at every place they pastored. James last ministry was in a home Bible study group that outgrew the living room in their Coeur d’Alene home (2008), and led them to purchase the old train depot in Rathdrum, Idaho where he continued to share the Gospel from 2009-2011 (from ages 84-87). With failing eyesight, he sadly closed the work of his last church. He continued to share God’s Word in Bible study during the winter months while visiting his daughter in St. George, Utah (2014-2016). His last sermon was delivered at Victory World Outreach Church in Rathdrum the fall of 2016.
In addition to his first love of ministry, James was an accomplished carpenter and specialized in new construction. He loved the smell of fresh-cut wood and the ability create buildings it, and he shared this love with both his son and his daughter. James was never without his tools, and it was common to find hammers, screw drivers and wrenches in the doors, floorboards, and trunks of all of his vehicles! His legacy of construction can be seen in both homes, churches and other commercial structures in Idaho, Washington, Florida, and North Carolina. His last construction work was to remodel the old train depot in Rathdrum, Idaho (which had been gutted) and turn it into a church.
James always retained a love for farming and was blessed to farm large tracts of land in Sandpoint, Idaho; Chattaroy, Washington; Post Falls, Idaho; and Midland, North Carolina. He enjoyed raising cows, hay for feed, and large gardens of vegetables. It was a good thing that Helen, his wife, enjoyed canning the produce from the garden and preparing tasty meals from the organic beef that they raised.
We will miss our Dad, Grandfather, Great-Grandfather, and Great-Great Grandfather extremely. James was greatly loved, touched countless lives and will be missed by all. James is predeceased by his wife of 68 years, Helen Louise (Miller) Loer (October 7, 2016), and his son, Eric Walter Loer, Sr. (February 3, 2017). He leaves behind his daughter, Candace (Kandi) Rebecca (Loer) Johnson, her husband, Boyd Johnson, his son Eric’s wife, Cheryl (Rickey) Loer; grandchildren: Eric Loer, Jr; Jereme Loer, Becky (Loer) Johnson, Tyrel Melvin, Jason Johnson, Olivia (Johnson) Trepanier, Sharlie (Johnson) Czapla, Savannah (Johnson) Gordon, and Thanh (Kim) Tsugawa. Great-grandchildren: Nathan Loer, Joshua Loer, Jessey Loer, Tarah (Loer) Pagaling, Tristin Loer, Meghan Loer, Meadow Loer, Ryan Richart, Melissa Richart, Hailey Trepanier, Jaydrek Czapla, Shanelle Czapla, Dexter Melvin. Great-Great-Grandchildren: Jayden Pagaling, Roman Pagaling, Breezy Pagaling.
As James entered Heaven late Saturday night, he heard the words that every Christian longs to hear: Matthew 25:21 “His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”
Our hope rests in our faith of our Lord, Jesus Christ that we will meet again. We love you and will miss you always.
James is interred at Riverview Cemetery, in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, next to his beloved wife, Helen. Bell Tower Funeral Home has been entrusted with the final care.
Please visit Jame's Memorial Video at: https://youtu.be/_WIXu1fisLE