Harry James, 84, passed away Feb. 18, 2012, at Pen Bay Medical Center of complications from pneumonia, COPD, and Wegener's Granulomatosis, a vascular disease. He was my devoted husband, companion and true friend for 20 years, and died peacefully, having lived a life he loved, and was proud of.
Harry was born in Birmingham, England, and apprenticed as a carpenter at the age of 14. He loved his trade, always said there was never a day when he was unhappy going to work, and he didn't quit until he was in his late 70s.
Harry came to America when he was 27 from an England still recovering from World War II and to him it truly was "the land of milk and honey." He loved this country and fondly recalled that when you bought cigarettes back in the 1950s from a vending machine, you got change taped to the outside of the package. He settled in Keyport, N.J., where he had his own business, J and B Tile and Trim, and where he served as project manager on some of Jersey's first condominium developments.
He loved reading, was a Civil War buff and a great admirer of Patrick O'Brien's maritime series, re-reading many of them because he had forgotten which ones he read in the first place. He enjoyed new places and new people,and was a devoted and loyal friend to lifelong friends back in England. He liked cooking, Guinness and Sam Adam's Honey Brown beer, and entertaining on his beloved Royal Doulton china, loved dancing and music from the war years, and looked as handsome in Dickie work overalls as he did in jeans or a tux.
Born in an industrial city, he developed a life-long passion for sailing when a client who couldn't pay a bill gave him a small boat and he taught himself to sail. Eventually he acquired Vagabond, a 42-foot wooden schooner that he refitted from top to bottom. It kept him broke but happy through several states and marinas on the east coast. He loved politics, was proud to call himself a Socialist, and believed in helping those who couldn't help themselves. He was honest and didn't suffer fools gladly. He loved the Union Fair, barbershop singing and the Mason's Saturday night suppers. He was a gentleman in every sense of the word, whose dry British humor, quick smile, ruddy cheeks and oft repeated stories made him one in a million. He was my hero, and the bravest man I ever knew.
He was predeceased by his first wife Beryl and son Craig.
His son Kelvin lives in Long Branch, N.J. Harry loved my children Kate Goodspeed Whitney, her husband Aaron, and our grandson Elias James, and my son Perry Goodspeed, his wife Jennifer, and our grandson Ethan James Baker.
Seeing them and spending time together made the last three years of his life among his happiest, even though he was ill a great part of it. He loved my sisters Nancy Anastopoulos and Patricia Wolslagel and their families, as well as Perry Goodspeed Sr. and his wife Trish, and special friends Sue and Paul Chilton.
If you knew Harry and would like to remember him, have a drink tonight with someone you love and wish him well. When we had company for dinner, Harry liked to read our guests the Irish Blessing on their way home. The last stanza reads "And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand." I have a feeling he's there already.