James J. Eardley, 78, passed away Wednesday, November 30, 2022, after a long battle
with Parkinson’s Disease. He died peacefully, surrounded by his wife and seven
children—including several in-laws and grandchildren. It was a powerful experience as
he passed from this life to the next, a special moment that will stay with his family
forever. He was a loving and devoted husband, father, and grandpa. There’s never been
a grandpa who loved his grandchildren more! He told all 30 grandchildren and 10
great-grandchildren that he loved them every chance he had.
James—who went by Jim most of his life—was born August 31, 1944, the first son of
James Jenkins Soderborg and Jane Callahan Soderborg. His mother and biological
father later divorced and his mother remarried Paul P. Eardley who then adopted Jim
and his last name was legally changed from Soderborg to Eardley. He always
considered Paul to be his “real” father in every sense of the word. At five years of age,
Jim moved with his parents from Salt Lake City to St. George and lived there most of his
On July 11, 1964, Jim married the love of his life—Claudia Joy Whitney. He didn’t grow
up as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but gained a
testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel during a seminary class in high school and
was baptized in 1966. He and Claudia were then sealed in the St. George temple in
1967 with their first-born child, Tracy. They are now the parents of seven children.
He graduated from Dixie High School in 1962 and worked for his father in the propane
business for many years. In 1967 he moved with his wife and oldest daughter to
Richfield, Utah so he could start up and run a new Dix-O-Gas plant in the area. In 1971
they moved back to St. George to help manage the Dix-O-Gas plant there. He was
instrumental in helping the family expand Dix-O-Gas throughout the state and later into
Idaho and Nevada.
In 1978, Jim was called to be a counselor in a bishopric in a Dixie College student ward.
Two years later, he was called to be a bishop in a student ward, then, six months later, a
stake president for the Dixie College student stake.
In 1987, he and his brother sold Dix-O-Gas. Jim was released as Stake President about
a month later. That same year, he bought a travel agency, calling it Eardley Travel.
While owning the travel agency, he was able to travel to places like Hawaii, Chile,
Paraguay, Mexico, England, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Luxembourg,
Liechtenstein, and Japan. In 1988, he ran for the Utah State senate, representing
Southwestern Utah, a race that he did not win.
In 1989, he was called to become the President of the Oregon, Portland mission. One
month before leaving on the mission, he became a grandpa for the first time, and he sold
the travel agency before leaving on his mission. While in Oregon, Jim invested with his
brother Paul in two businesses in Northern Utah.
In 1992, Jim was released as a mission president and he, his wife, and four youngest
children came back home to St. George. The very first church calling he had after being
released was as a Primary teacher. His other church callings also included: Young
Men’s President, Shepherding Couple, Deacons and Teachers Quorum Advisor, Gospel
Doctrine teacher, Scout Leader, High Councilman, and Bishopric Counselor of a
In 1995, Jim was elected to the St. George City Council. He served two years there,
then he was elected as a Washington County Commissioner in 1998. Also in 1998, he
and his wife built a second home in Enterprise, where they had plenty of room for their
horses. They kept that home in Enterprise for 19 years. For Jim, life in Enterprise was
He served as a county commissioner for 16 years and later retired from the county
commission in 2015. He then served as a St. George temple ordinance worker with his
wife from 2015-2018.
Jim served in many positions, boards, and committees which included: The St. George
Planning Commission, the Dixie College Alumni Association, the St. George Exchange
Club, the Utah Peace Officers Standards and Training Council, UCIP (Utah Counties
Indemnity Pool) Board of Trustees, the Board of Southwest Utah Public Health
Department, Five County Association of Government, Dixie Metropolitan Planning
Organization, Joint Highway Committee, and Washington County Conservancy Board.
He also served as Vice-Chairman of the Utah Trustland Board of Trustees, served as
President of St. George Chamber of Commerce, served as Chairman of the Council of
Governments, Chairman of DTEC (Transportation Executive Committee), initiator of
Vision Dixie, President of USACCC (Utah State Association of Counties, Councils, and
Commissions) and President of UPGA (United Propane Gas Association).
Awards that Jim received included: Community Mental Health Achievement Award,
Utah Total Citizen Award for appreciation for extraordinary service, UCIP (Utah Counties
Indemnity Pool) Board service award, Five County Associations of Governments service
award, Washington County Sheriff’s award for appreciation for 16 years of service to the
community, Southwest Behavioral Health Center award of appreciation for service,
Outstanding County Commission Award, Dixie State College award for outstanding
service as a distinguished citizen and generous friend of Dixie State College, and
President’s Volunteer Service Award.
He is survived by his wife, Claudia; their children Tracy (Ken) Shurtz, St. George;
Shannon (Todd) Hougaard, Cove; Brian (Leisha), St. George; Kyle (Sunee), St. George;
Aaron (Amanda), St. George; Jennifer (Steve) Martin, St. George; Kandice (Scott)
Geddes, St. George; 30 loving grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren, whom he
treasured; his brother Paul (Karen), Texas; his sister Susan, St. George; and a
wonderful extended family and many true friends. His ancestors including his father,
Paul, and mother, Jane, preceded him in death.
Jim led a full life and is loved and cherished by many. He touched countless lives
through his service and example. He loved to ride his horses and fly his plane but God
and family were always the most important aspects of his life. He worked tirelessly to do
what was right, an example that has been ingrained within the hearts of all who knew
him. His mortal journey may end here, but it’s just one chapter of his eternal story.
Funeral services will be held at 11:30 AM on Saturday, December 10th, 2022, at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Washington Fields Chapel, 1867 South Washington Fields Road, Washington, Utah.
A viewing will be held Friday, December 9, 2022, from 6:00-8:00 pm at Spilsbury Mortuary,
110 S. Bluff Street, St. George. A second Viewing will take place on Saturday from 10:00-11:00 am, prior to services, also at the Washington Fields Chapel.
Our family wishes to sincerely thank all the staff at the Primrose Retirement Center
and the Canyon Hospice workers for their endless service in helping make Jim’s final
days more comfortable.
Arrangements are made under the direction of Spilsbury Mortuary, 110 S Bluff Street, St. George, Utah. 435-673-2454.
Family and friends are invited to leave a memory on James’ obituary page at