OLIVER, JAMES PARKER JR. (1935 ~ 2016). The following is an obituary for Jim Oliver, former head of the Legislative Budget Board. The obituary was provided by Harrell Funeral Home of Austin.
James Parker (Jim) Oliver, Jr.
At home on Sundown Ridge in his beloved Texas Hill Country, James Parker (Jim) Oliver, Jr., departed this life for a better one surrounded by his loving family on November 1, 2016, All Saints Day. His six-year battle with Multiple System Atrophy, a progressive degenerative neurological condition, is won. He was born on July 18, 1935, in Caldwell, Texas, to James Parker Oliver and Benita Piwetz Oliver, and lived there until coming to Austin to attend The University of Texas.
Jim graduated from UT with a degree in Business Administration. After working one year in Conroe for a pipeline company, he began his long career in Texas state government with the Legislative Budget Board, a job he planned to be a stop-gap until he could get a better one in the city he came to love during his time at UT. He began his service on Leap Year’s Day, February 29, 1960, as a budget examiner, and finished his time there in 1994 serving as Director for 12 years. In 1968, Jim took a leave of absence to work in the administration of Governor Preston Smith, returning to the LBB as Assistant Director in 1973. After his first retirement in 1994 he was recruited to join the staff of Governor George W. Bush, as Senior Budget Advisor. He served in that capacity until 1997 when he took his final retirement from the State.
A Christian, Jim lived out his faith in a life of service to and love for his neighbor as our Lord commands. He worshipped at St. Martin’s Evangelical Lutheran Church for 36 years, serving in many capacities including president, treasurer, member of the Endowment Board, and usher, and his most rewarding service – Stephen Minister and Leader. Jim cherished the opportunity to walk with those who were hurting, caring for them in one-on-one relationships, and training others to do the same.
In 1956, while in school, he married Kathleen Virginia Drake. They had three children, James III, David and Kathy Oliver. Jim and Bunny Laurence Holmstrom were married in 1980. Bringing together his three children and Bunny’s three children, Dana, Bruce and Marla Holmstrom, formed a new, loving, boisterous family that brought much joy to Jim. Marriages increased the family, and twelve grandchildren followed, multiplying the joy. Family gatherings were full of fun and love and laughter. But, as in many families, sorrow came unexpectedly and unwelcomed in the passing of their grandson, Dylan at age 23.
After retiring in 1997, Jim changed careers and became “Vice President of Toting and Hauling” for Bunny as they traveled around the country and in Europe to galleries and art festivals with her artwork. Artists and art lovers joined his very large circle of friends.
Traveling throughout the United States was one of his greatest pleasures, and a trip to Italy to celebrate their 20th anniversary began a fascination with Europe. Even after his condition affected his ability to walk, Jim and Bunny traveled to many interesting places, including returning to Europe twice and the College World Series in Omaha in 2014 to watch the ‘Horns.
Jim’s 80th birthday brought forth tributes from prominent federal and state officials, pastors, friends, co-workers, and family. Here is a sampling:
“(Jim)...is—and was in those days—a remarkable man, able to keep his head, a man of integrity, and not prone to the normal government backbiting and second guessing.”
“You were a servant leader before the term was coined, and our community and the State of Texas has benefitted greatly from your hard work and dedication.”
“Your ability to identify the salient points of an issue, your equanimity in the face of legislative chaos, and your inherent decency are unparalleled.”
“Everything that I have or ever will have in my life, I owe to you.”
“While many others would wallow in despair, Jim Oliver was embracing life and living each day to the fullest.” As an example of this, a true Longhorn, two days before his passing, he watched every minute of the UT-Baylor game, and enjoyed the victory which was most certainly won in his honor.
In addition to his parents, Jim is predeceased by his stepfather Steve Shiller, grandson Dylan Ross and mother-in-law Gladys Douglas. He is survived by his wife, Bunny; brother and sister-in-law, Ken and Jo Shiller and two nieces and four nephews; Jim and Lynn Oliver, Dave and Debbie Oliver, Kathy and Tom Mitchell, Dana and Derek Ross, Bruce Holmstrom and Peg Maupin, Marla and James Stacey. Grandchildren are Amanda and Spencer Jackson, Maggie Ross, Emily Mitchell, Danielle and Kayla Oliver, James Parker IV, Jaxon, and Jordan Oliver, Jessica Lusk and Chris Scannell.
Jim loved sunsets, so as you watch a glorious Texas sunset, raise a glass and toast this incredible man…he would consider that a great honor.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to St. Martin’s Ev. Lutheran Church www.saintmartins.org, Austin Helps Honduras Scholarship Fund at www.austinhelphonduras.org; or Multiple System Atrophy Coalition, www.multiplesystematrophy.com.
Visitation is from 6-8 on Saturday, Nov. 5, at Harrell Funeral Home, 4435 Frontier Trail, Austin. Memorial service is at 4 pm on Sunday, Nov. 6, at St. Martin’s Ev. Lutheran Church, 606 West 15th, Austin, TX, followed by a reception at the church. Interment will be at Texas State Cemetery, and will be a private family service.