James J. McDonnell

After 62 years of marriage, James J. McDonnell, beloved husband of Margaret McDonnell, died peacefully on Monday, April 15, 2013.

Jim was born in 1922, in Brookline, Mass., to Charles J. McDonnell and Ann (Flaherty) McDonnell, both of County Sligo, Ireland, and later of Brookline, Mass.

He graduated from Brookline High School in 1940, where he played saxophone in the band, and played on the football, wrestling and baseball teams.

In 1942, he joined the U.S. Navy and was graduated as a naval aviator and Ensign USNR in 1944. He flew in the Pacific region during World War II. He was honorably discharged in 1946.

Following World War II, he worked as a pilot for Pan American Airways and remained a member of the U.S. Naval Reserve. He was recalled to active duty between 1952-1954 and was stationed at Westover Air Force Base in Massachusetts. He retired from the Naval Reserve after 33 years with the rank of captain, USNR.

In 1950, he graduated from Boston University with a Bachelor of Science in business. While at Boston University, he rowed with the JV crew and was a sought-after partner for big band swing dances. He returned to Boston University to earn a master’s degree in business administration in 1962.

He had a 42-year business career in the field of petroleum marketing. He began working for the Lapham Brown Co. in Brookline, Mass. His career included work with Texaco and Quincy Oil Companies in Massachusetts, Hudson Oil Co. in Kansas, and the United Refining Co. in Warren, Pa., from which he retired in 1982.

Jim was a person of many interests. In 1972, James and Margaret attended their first of many Marriage Encounter weekends. He was an enthusiastic participant in the Marriage Encounter program. James and Margaret continued their commitment to the program for more than 40 years.

He had a lifelong love of sailing, racing his blue Lightning, and teaching others sailing skills. He was a member of the Chautauqua Lake Yacht Club for more than 40 years where he served as captain of the Lightning Fleet and organizer of the annual Cornball Regatta. He also served as commodore of the club for a few years.

Jim was an avid amateur photographer throughout his life. He began by taking 16-millimeter movies in the 1950s. He continued learning by taking many courses in photographic techniques. He learned to make multimedia slide shows, which he shared through the Nature Photo Club of the Jamestown Audubon Society.

He maintained a commitment to fitness throughout his life. He swam regularly, and achieved the milestone of swimming 2,500 total miles by the age of 80. He continued working toward his goal of 3,000 total miles.

Jim had an adventurous spirit. He loved to travel the world and visited numerous countries throughout his life. He continued studying languages, history and cultures.

More than anything else, he was a dedicated and loving husband, father, grandfather, uncle and friend. He offered warmth and friendliness to everyone he met.

He is survived by his daughter, Patricia, her husband, David Baker, and their children: Jordan, Kathleen, Mariatu and Francis Baker of Buffalo, N.Y.; his daughter, Kathleen McDonnell and her husband, Christopher Tadych of Cleveland, Ohio; his son, James McDonnell and his wife, Lana (Liem) McDonnell of New York City, and his son, John McDonnell and his wife, Alice (Peterson) McDonnell of Chantilly, Va., and their daughter, Christina (McDonnell) Whyte and her husband, Jason Whyte also of Virginia.

Jim was preceded in death by his brother, the late Charles F. McDonnell and his late wife, Margaret (Fitzgerald) McDonnell of North Hampton, N.H.; his sisters: the late Mary McDonnell, the late Anne (McDonnell) Taylor, and her late husband, Dabney S. Taylor of Louisville, Ky.; the late Katherine (McDonnell) Fitzgerald, and her late husband, Michael Fitzgerald of Dedham, Mass.

Calling hours and memory sharing for Jim will be 7-9 p.m. on Friday, April 19, at the Lind Funeral Home, 805 W. Third St., Jamestown, NY 14701.

The funeral Mass will be at 10 a.m on Saturday, April 20, at St. James Roman Catholic Church, 27 Allen St., Jamestown, NY 14701.

In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory may be made to the Jamestown Audubon Society; the Boy Scouts of America; or to the American Cancer Society.

Jim’s family would like to acknowledge our deep appreciation to the staff at the Heritage Park Rehab and Skilled Nursing for the loving care that they gave to Jim during the last year of his life.