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May ob:Ben James


 

Ben Edward James Jr.

Ben Edward James Jr. was born on July 1, 1927 in Waycross, Georgia, to Eva Kate James (Sweat) and Ben Edward James.  He was the whole world to his parents – his mother always said that because he was so wonderful, they really didn’t feel the need to have any more children!  He grew up during the Great Depression, and his whole extended family lived together in several places, but he called Brunswick, Georgia home. Dad had an absolutely wonderful childhood, growing up with his cousins and fishing and boating on the coast.

He graduated from Glynn Academy, and couldn’t wait to join the Navy at the tail end of World War II.  Fortunately for us kids (whew!), he came through the war unscathed.  After serving in the Navy, he returned home and decided to use his GI Bill to attend photography school in New York City and worked doing what he loved, taking photographs.  Like many others, he was recalled to active duty for the Korean War, and again came home safely. As much as he enjoyed photography (and was a wonderful photographer his entire life), he finally admitted that he couldn’t make a living “taking pictures of fat ladies and babies”.  He decided to attend college on the G.I. Bill from the Korean War, and attended the University of Georgia.  After a semester in Athens, the heavens opened up, a bright light shone down, and a voice said “Ben, what the heck are you doing here?  A mind like yours deserves a first rate education!”  And so Ben headed to Atlanta to get that education - at Georgia Tech, of course!  He graduated in 1956 with a degree in Industrial Engineering.  He went to work for General Electric in Danville, Illinois, where he met the love of his life, Edi.  After a wonderful courtship where he dazzled her with his capacity to remember every joke he ever heard, they were married on August 2nd, 1958.  In short order, along came 5 kids, starting in 1959 and the last coming in 1966.  In between children, there were moves with GE to Schenectady, New York, and Rome, Georgia. 

After their last child was born, he was offered a job with his Alma Mater, Georgia Tech, to work at what was then called the Engineering Experiment Station (later the Georgia Tech Research Institute).  He loved working there, and was able to travel all over the state of Georgia, and also to many countries around the world.  As much as he enjoyed working and traveling, he always made time for family activities.  When we kids were young, we spent many, many weekends camping and boating at Lake Lanier – no one had as much fun as Dad did!  Even after the kids grew up and left home, Ben and Edi would go to the lake every weekend, where they had a fierce rivalry in their running game of Gin.  Nothing relaxed Dad more than being out on the boat.  He and Mom decided that they really wanted to live on the coast, so after retirement, they moved down to the wonderful coastal community of Shellman Bluff, Georgia.  Between boating, woodworking, and various other interests (there was ALWAYS something new!) Dad kept pretty busy.  He took over the cooking (Mom sure didn’t mind, he was a great cook!), and even went hunting for moose and antelope (no moose, but he did get an antelope), and was game to try pretty much anything!  No matter what new project Dad had going, his family was always the most important thing to him. 

He adored his children and grandchildren - in his mind, they would always be his babies – but the absolute love of his life and his reason for living was always, always Mom. Dad and Mom loved their life in Shellman Bluff for many years, enjoying all that the area had to offer.  They both slowed down as they got older, but it didn’t diminish their enjoyment of life one bit.  There were health concerns for both Dad and Mom, and they both handled them with grace and humor (always humor!). Mom passed away from cancer on April 13, 2017, and after almost 59 years of marriage, Dad lost his main reason for living.  He wanted to be with Mom, and passed away on May 3, 2017. 

Dad had a zest for life and a sense of humor that just wouldn’t stop (and didn’t stop, even at the end of his life).  There is so much to say about our father, and not enough space to say it.  He spent his whole life taking care of his family, and the love and respect we have for him just can’t be measured. If any of us messed up in ANY way, there was one question we all dreaded – with a small smile on his face, Dad would always ask, “Did you learn anything?” Well Dad, you taught us all the most important things in life, so yes, finally we can say in all honesty, we DID learn something!

Ben is survived by all of his children - Ben III of Hiawassee, Ga., Victoria Parker (Richard) of Colorado Springs, Co., Ida Parkerson of New Haven, Ct., Galen of Monroe, Ga., and Eva James (Chookie Poo) of Shellman Bluff, Ga.; his grandchildren, Daniel, Kate, Sam and Hunter; and his sisters-in-law, Jane Thompson of West Lafayette, Indiana and Alice Yaw of Rocklin, California. 

   A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date.

(Family-placed obituary)

 

 
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