Let me tell you about James

James was born the eldest of nine kids in a Irish Catholic family. James’ dad was in the Navy, and James just happened to be born in 1940, so his dad was gone quite a bit of the time trying to teach bad people the consequences of their actions. James excelled at running, winning countless meets as a high schooler, and then holding state records in the one-mile an two-mile events when he attended college. When there’s nine kids in the family and your mom calls out “DINNER TIME!” you make sure you’re the first one to the table, because that’s a situation of “The Quick and The Hungry”.

After college, James decided that he wanted a vacation, so he joined Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children, and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant. Since being an officer in the USMC wasn’t hard enough, he took up running marathons as a hobby. That lasted until knee surgery in his 60’s. After that he took up bike riding and competed in several races, because those damn kids needed to be put in their place.

At one point while he was stationed in Norfolk, VA, he injured his ankle. This is important because while swimming in a pool as part of his recovery, he was hit on by a female life guard who thought he looked cute. They got married about three years later. They had two boys, much to his great surprise. James once told me that if he had known that sex led to kids, he would have just joined the priesthood and remained celibate. I believed him when he said this.

James did two tours in Viet Nam. It was not a fun time. That’s all that needs to be said about that.

After twenty two years of service, James figured it was time to be called “Mister”, so he retired and went back to school. He worked in the computer industry in a time when MS DOS was the king of operating systems. Along the way he did his best to instill honor, work ethics and integrity into his two boys. It stuck. One went on to join the service, and the other ended up becoming the President of the company that he had started working for decades ago just to pay a few bills.

James was diagnosed with cancer around 2014. He informed his family of this by titling his email “Well, damn”. He successfully fought it off twice. But when the Covidiacy made the medical establishment lose its collective mind, things got a little out of hand, and cancer started winning. James’ two boys spent countless hours at the family home making sure that James and his wife were taken care of, and that James would be able to live life as he wanted to live it. He spent the last part of his life on his property, looking out at the forest that he loved and surrounded by family that he loved and who loved him. Have you heard the joke “An Introvert is someone who, when a pandemic happens, doesn’t notice a change in their lifestyle”? That was James. All he needed was his wife, his sons, and a couple of his Marine Corps League buddies.

James lost his battle with cancer today. He died with his wife of over fifty years by his side, and his younger son praying the rosary at his bedside every morning.

He taught me how to drive. How to run a chainsaw and fell a tree. He taught me the joy in laughing. Jokes and practical jokes and how poking fun at a problem makes the problem easier to deal with. He taught me that freedom and responsibility are both sides of the same coin. He hammered a work ethic into me. When I first enlisted, he was the officer who swore me in. That picture remains in the dining room to this day, because that’s how proud of me he was. He raised me and mentored me and guided me, and as his health failed I did everything I could to return what he did for me in service to him, to make sure he didn’t ever get put into a nursing home.

He was a prickly perfectionist. When I was a teen I got t-boned by a driver who had ran a red light. He got pissed off at me for not looking both ways a fourth or fifth time. I can say that a lot of my unhealthy mental habits come from him. The perfectionism. Taking the blame for things because if somehow, somewhere if I had done some thing that I wasn’t aware of I could have made X or Y happen.

But he built the parts of me that are the best. The integrity. The ability to stand my ground when I’m right, and to acknowledge my mistakes when I’m wrong. The ability to just get the job done, because dammit that’s what a proper man does.

I’m going to miss him. And maybe if I live a good enough life, I’ll get to see him again.


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  1. My deepest condolences, Dave.

    • LiberTarHeel on June 8, 2023 at 8:27 AM

    James rests, assured that his sons have the watch. RIP. Semper Fi.

    • Dan Patterson on June 8, 2023 at 10:37 AM

    A beautiful and touching tribute.Blessings.

    • George Mckay on June 9, 2023 at 5:08 AM

    Dave, my sincere condolences to you and your family.  You are indeed a lucky man.  I would have liked to know him.  That says a lot.   

    • MMinWA on June 9, 2023 at 8:58 AM

    James sounds like a real true to life solid. You’re a lucky man my friend. I grew up(?) without such a man in my life. My most sincere condolences and God speed James.

  2. Dang. Hard to lose friends of your youth. When they are gone, no one will believe that those old photos are the old person they see before them.
    The memories die off with them, too. Just a doggone shame.

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