Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service

James Galen Sletten

May 23, 1977 ~ July 23, 2019

James Galen Sletten, 42, of Bozeman, Montana left this physical world on earth suddenly on Tuesday, July 23, 2019 to boldly go where no man has gone before, to explore new worlds, to seek out new life and new adventures.     

James was born May 23, 1977 in Portland, Oregon. He lived there with his mother, Norma, for 3 years before moving to Montana. He spent his elementary school years in Shepherd & Billings. He graduated in 1996 from West High School in Billings. He had a stellar track career in which he held the school pole vault record and earned a track scholarship to Montana State University in Bozeman.         

While at MSU, James pledged and became a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. During his first year of college, he met the love of his life, his wife Daisy Zell. Their lives were in harmony from that moment on--a match made in heaven. Finally, after much cajoling from friends and family, James and Daisy were joined in marriage on November 12, 2004…over their lunch break. The happy couple were blessed with the biggest joy and treasure of their lives with the birth of their daughter Willow on June 21, 2014--the summer solstice. James and Daisy bought a home in Bozeman shortly thereafter and created the perfect “nest” for their family.           

Continued education was so very important to James in academics as well as for personal growth in which he cultivated into his daily life. After earning a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from MSU, he went on to achieve a Master’s in Public Administration and was diligently working on a PhD in Adult and Higher Education Administration.   

James had a 13-year career with the Montana State University Police Department rising to the rank of detective sergeant. In 2015 he took a position with the Office of Institutional Equity as a Title IX investigator. Throughout his career, he was noted for his diligent, meticulous hard work, as well as the caring and compassion with which he carried out his duties. The student outreach component of James’s work in the police department and as a Title IX investigator inspired and motivated him to pursue higher education with emphasis on student engagement.       

Most importantly, James was a devoted and loving father and husband who valued family above all else. He was extremely proud to have the opportunity to be a stay-at-home dad, while continuing to work on his PhD for the past two years. For Willow, he was always the “best tickler”, the best at being a dinosaur and playing “raaawr!” and learned to become an expert fairy house maker. He always strove to make the holidays for his family even more magical and grand than the last. Family hugs were daily cherished moments never taken for granted. Spending time with his family brought him the greatest joy.             

James was a man of great passion, a humanitarian, an activist, an expert nap taker, and a father and husband whose interests were varied and extraordinary. He was a strong advocate for health and fitness, deeply cherishing the special moments he had as Daisy’s running partner and number one motivator. They trained and worked out side by side, running half marathons around the state and always excitedly making plans for their next race. James was an avid hiker as well, participating in some epic backpacking treks with Daisy’s family to remote areas in Montana’s vast wilderness areas. He found great joy in those daddy moments carrying his precious Willow on her first outdoor adventures in the mountains. As those closest to him would know, James was also a kid at heart. His extensive Lego collection was legendary. He inspired all his nieces and nephews…and some adults, with his love for one of his favorite past times. He reminded us all that you are never too old to indulge yourself in play and imagination. James was a passionate reader of fantasy and science fiction. He admired the great visionary writers for their complex development of plot and character and always was willing to share his extensive library of favorites with anyone who showed an interest. No surprise to anyone, James thoroughly enjoyed profound discussions of substance on science, philosophy, and politics, never shying away from an intellectually healthy debate. His opinions and counsel were sought out by many for the thoroughness of the facts and knowledge he would impart, especially given his incredible ability to pull crucial details of any event without pause from his steel trap mind.       

He is survived by his wife Daisy Zaneta Zell and daughter Willow Nayeli Zell-Sletten of Bozeman; his mother Norma Sletten of Billings; his sister Charlsie Sletten and niece Rylie Garriot of Billings; his father Charles Sletten of Washington; step sister Jessica Daniels of Florida; stepbrother Jon-Paul Sletten of Washington; his aunt Jane Jimenez of Washington, as well as the extended Sletten family of Anaconda and Helena; and Daisy’s extended family which includes her parents, Zane and Gloria Zell of Shelby, numerous brothers, sisters, nephew, nieces, aunts and uncles who loved him dearly as a member of their own family.     

A celebration of life in honor of James will be held Saturday, August 17th at the Strand Union Building Ballroom on the Montana State University campus. There will be a welcoming at 10:00 am for those who would like to visit early, a memorial service at 11:00 am, followed by a reception at noon.        James wholeheartedly supported and believed that public radio and television were vitally important for public education and the well-being of the country.         

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in memory of James to PBS and NPR at the following links:           

Daisy and family would like to express a deeply heartfelt thank you to all family and friends who have reached out to offer comfort and support during this time of great hardship.