Jimmy was born near Ti Tree on 19 March 1953. After attending school for a short time at Ali Curung Primary School in late 50s, he worked as a stockman for 20 years at various cattle stations in NT and Qld. He liked being on horseback and sleeping out bush. Then the police asked if he wanted to be a ‘tracker’ and Jimmy agreed and did that job for about 10 years. Later he worked for the Anmatyerr Council for 13 years as a general hand.
During his travels Jimmy married Janie in 1974 at Willowra. They had four children, and over the years their family grew to 11 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Jimmy decided to become a pastor after receiving teaching and encouragement from pastors Paul Albrecht and Davey Inkamala, who baptised him at Ti Tree in 1991. He was ordained in 1998 at Ti Tree.
In 2002 Jimmy began working on the Anmatyerr Bible translation project with David Strickland, his uncle Paddy Willis, and other pastors such as Don Presley. Over time they translated the gospels of Mark and John, seven New Testament letters, Luther’s Catechism, and various other liturgies and devotional resources (audio and written). He was very capable with languages and had a quick mind, ready to make suggested changes to translation. He was gregarious and eager with a happy grin, and loved to laugh. He was comfortable with whitefellas and black alike, and obviously very popular with both. He occasionally attended Lutheran synods, and once made a speech on reconciliation, which was well received.
In 2016 Jimmy was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Still serving as a faithful Pastor until he was hospitalised, he died at Pmara Jutunta (6 mile) on 30 November 2016.
He will be severely missed as a relative, pastor, translator and friend. Now that Don Presley has retired, there are now no active pastors at Ti Tree. FRM pastoral support worker Darryl Mattner is anxious to find new recruits for pastoral training, and David Strickland is seeking others to continue the important translation work.
Please pray for the pastoral and the translation needs in the Ti Tree and Anmatyerr region.