When Carolyn called to tell me James had passed, the news hit very hard. There is something about friends that go back 57 years which cannot be replaced. No one can fill the void left by James in the lives of those who knew him. Superbly kind to everyone, never a discouraging word or degrading comment, always there when we needed him, optimistic until his world imploded--everyone knows all these things. But what else? Richard spoke of his service. Although James was in the U.S. Navy, attached to a destroyer, he spent a year on the ground in Viet Nam. He had a top secret clearance and was involved in planting-and presumably maintaining-listening devices to keep track of the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army. Even though I had a secret clearance, I had "no need to know," and James would not talk about what he did in Viet Nam for many years; he was sworn to secrecy and that oath he kept until what he did was finally made public. He was exposed to Agent Orange while in country, and like many other veterans, suffered significantly from the results of that exposure. Did he ever complain about that? No, of course not. He was promoted to Lieutenant after being released from active duty, which rank is the same as Captain in the Army or Air Force. Making Lieutenant in three years reflected his honorable and important service. He came back from Viet Nam the same as he left, and afterward James was always there to help. He was staying with us one holiday when a friend of my wife from Mexico blew an engine somewhere around Royalty, Texas, on a trip to visit us. James and I spent the day finding her and towing her Suburban to Midland. I drove the tow "truck" and James manhandled the powerless Suburban for nearly 100 miles, much of it at 45 mph on a busy Interstate 20. Did he consider balking at the danger involved ? Of course, not. But then James was always there to help whether it was working at his Aunt's gas station in Gail, Texas, or teaching me to build a cedar post fence, or repair a barbed wire fence on our land. Was driving 120 miles to San Angelo, Texas, to buy cedar posts too much to ask of James? Of course, not. And then there is the matter of tires. James knew more about tires than the Michelin man. He harassed me interminably about the tires on my Suburban; never losing a chance to barb me about wearing them down too thin or for keeping them too long in service on the vehicle. I finally bought tires of which he approved. And speaking of mechanical stuff, he was always quick with a, "Do you know what you're doing?" just to rile me. So many memories: the dog that adopted James, which he named Girl; the shakedown cruise of my new pop-up camper; Thanksgiving and Christmas with us; car repairs in his driveway; never ending talk about the weather; having us as guests when we needed a place to stay in Lubbock; golf at Lubbock Country Club; rounding out our foresome for Rotary golf tournaments; helping us with medical issues in Lubbock, patiently driving me or waiting in the waiting room, especially that one long 8 hour day; exercising, bulking up, forever trying to gain weight; Orlando's; barbecue; Texas Roadhouse. James, I guess we should apologize for setting you up so many times without warning you in advance, but that's what you get for asking me so many times, "Do you know what you're doing?" However, I am sorry I didn't call more often. I miss you. We are here, and you're not; how do we get along without you?
Unlike most of the people who have commented on this site, my wife DeDe’s and my close friendship with James didn’t come about until 2006.
That year started a deep, long lasting association between us. We shared many hours of fun golfing, fly fishing, and dinning together. We have many cherished memories of our dear friend James. He was one of the finest men that either of us have ever known. A true gentleman in every aspect of life, and someone that greatly blessed our lives with his presence. He will be terribly missed . RIP good friend !!!!!!
Sixty-three years ago I met my “best” buddy for life! Little did I know at the time that such a strong bond would form between two individuals and would grow stronger through time. In high school, from trips to the Char King, football at the Blakey bowl (Tech Terrace Park), slow motion football (James’s front yard), dating twins, travel to the World’s Fair in Seattle, sharing racing slick tires that we moved back and forth between our cars, hunting for quail at the ranch, sharing the ownership of two black angus cows, playing golf (he tried to improve my game), and too many other fun activities to mention, we solidified a true bond.
Even when James was in Vietnam, Claudia and I corresponded with him by mail about every month or so. We wanted him to have some love from home! Even James’s time in Vietnam and my time in graduate school in Iowa couldn’t completely separate us! Oh by the way, James was awarded the Bronze Star for his military service. Proud of you James!
After James returned from Vietnam, he dedicated his life to ranching. We talked about every two weeks over the years. We discussed ranching, the weather (rain, or more often the lack there of), cow and fat cattle prices, new equipment on the ranch, boots, and, of course, truck tires. James loved “new” tires.
With my being in the Midwest, James would occasionally send me a set of snow tires for my 4Runner. Michelin of course! I would send him tools and knives for his collection and an occasional ball type cap with the name of some seed company, tractor manufacturer, herbicide, etc.
James also loved his trucks. I never saw him with less than 3. He had his down-at-the-ranch truck, his cattle trailer pulling truck, and his driving truck. He liked Toyota and Ford trucks, but at one time or another he had GMC’s and a Ram(v10). He sent me his 1965 4 wheel drive 3/4 ton GMC ranch truck a few years ago. He got this when he started ranching. He knew I always liked that truck and he wanted me to have it. I see it every day and I always think of him.
We were like very very close brothers. James was Godfather to our daughters Cecily and Celeste. They always talked fondly of “God Papa James”! James was really good to my Mother and Father. In their mid to later lives, James would regularly check on them. Of course my Mother would often have homemade yeast rolls and pancakes for him. James was always at my parents home when we pulled into Lubbock. He came with our great friends DeDe and Leon Long to our 50th wedding anniversary in Chicago in 2016. That visit was special to us, especially since he and DeDe were in our 1966 wedding ceremony.
James loved to eat out and he knew the best places to eat in Lubbock. All the wait staff knew him! He was one of the first to try out a new Lubbock restaurant. You could always rely on his recommendation!
James helped a lot of people in their times of need. He was kind to everyone! We all loved that about him. He loved his short nap in the afternoon. He could sleep for 10-15 minutes and was ready to go for the remainder of the day.
I briefly talked to him about 3 days before he passed. Thoughts of our many years of friendship and times together passed through my mind. I couldn’t have had a better friend, and brother!! I miss him so much and I hope the angels greeted him with a tray of freshly baked sweet rolls!! God Bless you James!!
C. Richard Edwards
James was a friend for 60 years after we met as Sophomores at Lubbock High School. I would see him at scattered times after graduation but would always have a “catch up” conversation. Sorry for the loss to his family and a blessing that James is now free of pain and his health has been restored forever.
As I read the comments and remembrance from Ed Anderson and it made me comfortable to make a comment. I played some golf with James and knew him mostly through my business and John and Judy. It confirms he was someone special..I am saddened on many levels but gratified i knew him.
Peace of mind is a call away. We’re here when you need us most.
James has had a big place in my life since college when we lived together for two years. When our kids were younger, James sometimes spent Thanksgiving and Christmas with us. What I didn't know was the attachment my children formed for James. The oldest, Valerie, was home for Thanksgiving, was deeply saddened by James' passing, and left this note:
"Ed, I know how much James loved you by the way he treated me. He was so kind and generous and genuinely loyal to your family regardless of what a mess we were. He was a true Renaissance Man. I have thought about him often because he was so unconditionally kind to me. I will never forget him giving me gifts at Christmas (nice hand lotion from my favorite place in Lubbock) and not expecting anything from anyone. I loved his voice and the way ya'll were just present with each other. He listened. He smiled. He was patient. He could sleep on the bricks in the living room and get up before everybody in his boots, ready to get going. [We didn't make James sleep on bricks. It was a comfortable divan supported by inlaid bricks.] He had a great laugh and trusting eyes. He was rare. I'm so thankful you brought him into my life. Valerie"
James visited Valerie in a dream Thanksgiving night.
Please accept our deepest condolences for your family's loss.