After his early years in South Dakota (1943-1957), his family moved to Oregon, where he graduated from McMinnville High School. Later he earned degrees from Whitworth College, Spokane, Washington, and Princeton Theological Seminary, New Jersey. He was ordained to Presbyterian ministry, served several churches, and received advanced degrees from McCormick Seminary, Chicago, and Garrett-Evangelical Seminary, Evanston, Illinois.
Although of mostly Dutch ancestry, he served in a variety of cultures including African American, White, and integrated congregations in Pennsylvania, Indiana, Ohio, New Jersey, Illinois, and Georgia. He co-pastored with his late wife Willa Baechlin Roghair (1943-1994) Utqiaġvik Presbyterian Church, an Iñupiaq congregation, in Utqiaġvik, Alaska (formerly Barrow). With his second wife, Elizabeth Byers Roghair, he retired to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he now assists a church on Laguna Pueblo, and occasionally others. His two sons, daughter-in-law, and foster grandchild live in Utqiaġvik. Jim enjoys relating his diverse experiences—especially those of his childhood on the prairies told in this memoir.