Jackson E. James, 83: Navy veteran learned life lessons before earning diploma

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PORTLAND — Jackson E. James, 83, of Portland, died peacefully at Mercy Hospital on Jan. 20, surrounded by his family.

James was born Aug. 20, 1931, in Hoboken, New Jersey, and soon moved to Maine with his father and mother, William and Laura James, to be close to his grandparents and other family members.

He was educated locally, but left Portland High School in order to serve his country. He earned two honorable discharges from the U.S. Navy during the Korean War, after service aboard the destroyer USS Gatling and in Washington, D.C. In 2004, he was awarded a diploma from Portland High, and later told people he was a “slow learner.” His sense of humor will be deeply missed.

James worked at various jobs throughout his life, but especially enjoyed his career as a painter and handyman. He also enjoyed his volunteer work, helping for many years at the Portland boat and flower shows. Most of all, he enjoyed being with family and his many friends, and taking his frequent walks throughout the city, including Munjoy Hill and downtown.

James was predeceased by his father, William A. James; his mother, Laura G. (Fowler) James; his brother, Walter H. James; and his favorite aunt, Phyllis (Fowler) Washburn.

He is survived by his daughters, Pamela Barnard and husband, Michael A. Barnard, of South Portland, Brenda Espinoza, of Rumford, Kimberly Coville, of Portland, and Ashley Burnell, of Windham; his 10 grandchildren; many great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews and cousins; and many wonderful friends.

Interment was to be held at sea, as it was for his uncle, Gerald, who died aboard the submarine USS Swordfish in the Sea of Japan during World War II.

There are no visiting hours scheduled. Friends and relatives are invited to attend a memorial service on Saturday, Feb. 7, at 11 a.m., at Jones, Rich & Hutchins Funeral Home, 199 Woodford St., Portland. A reception will follow at the American Legion Hall in Westbrook.

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