“You never saw Jim work cattle in a suit.”
Jim Gilliland was born to Claude and Josephine Gilliland, August 3, 1925 at Casper, Wyoming. The family moved to Butler County, Kansas when Jim was six months old, where the family founded the Gilliland Ranch. He attended school in Leon until his sophomore year, finishing high school in 1943 at the New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell. In September of that year he joined the U.S. Army Air Corps. He flew 26 missions over Germany and Austria as a tail gunner in a B-24 bomber.
After the War, he attended both Kansas University and Kansas State University. In 1948 Jim began his ranching career starting the Meldrum Ranch in Cowley County with his uncles, Mike and Brady Meldrum. Jim and Brady had a profit sharing plan with the Hash Knife Ranch shipping cattle from New Mexico to Kansas for the grazing season. These two uncles gave Jim a working knowledge of the ranching business. At the age of 35 Jim started managing both the Meldrum Ranch and the Gilliland Ranch. On November 17, 1984 Jim married his wife Paula. Jim has received awards for grassland conservation in Cowley County in 1992 and Butler County in 2003.
He is a long time member of the Kansas Livestock Association and served as chairman of the Cow-Calf Stocker Council in 1989. Jim was on the Kansas Beef Council Executive Committee from 1988 to 1995. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the National Livestock and Meat Board from 1992 to 1995. He lives with his wife near Leon. He has four sons, Joe Gilliland (deceased); Mark Gilliland, Houston, Texas; Scott Tracy, Dexter; and Shane Tracy, Leon. Scott and Shane both carry on the family ranching tradition.
Year inducted: 2006