TRAVERSE CITY — Richard "Dick" James passed away peacefully at home on Jan. 9, 2013. Dick was born in Kewadin on Nov. 2, 1937, to Frank and Rose (Pratt) James. Later in his childhood he was cared for by his foster parents, Thad and Neva Flaugher, to whom he lovingly referred as his "second family."
Dick graduated from Bellaire High School in 1958 where he was a standout on the varsity baseball, football and basketball teams.
After high school he served his country for four years by joining the U.S. Army.
In 1962 he married Roberta "Bobbie" Wood of Mancelona, and together they had three boys, Mark, Doug and Tom. Dick and Bobbie celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary just this past April.
After Mark and Doug were born Dick moved his family from Mancelona to Traverse City.
After a short stint at Sheffer Collett, Dick began a career as an insurance professional with The Prudential, which lasted over 15 years. In 1979 he decided to be his own boss and became an independent insurance agent. Late in 1988 Dick's son, Doug, also an insurance agent, decided to join forces and work together. This union lasted nearly 12 years until Dick's retirement in 2000.
Dick's passion for baseball ran deep. He loved his Tigers, even in the "lean" years. He attended two games of the 1968 World Series and he, along with Bobbie, also attended a game pitched by Mark Fydrich in his rookie season. This truly was a tough ticket to be had at the time.
Coaching baseball was something that Dick loved to do. He coached his sons' teams for seven seasons and assisted other coaches along the way. His coaching produced six championships in his seven seasons at the helm. Many of his "pupils" went on to play varsity baseball for what is now Traverse City Central. Five of the nine starters on the 1983 varsity baseball team played on Dick's Babe Ruth team. Dick also played on many softball teams, both slow pitch as well as fast pitch, at the old Walt Warren Field. He participated in softball up until the age of 60 when an injury from a slip on home plate ended his playing career. Throughout the 1970s he played in the Traverse City Adult Touch Football League as well.
When baseball was not going on Dick was out in the woods where he loved to hunt deer and moose. He made several successful hunting trips to Canada, where on one trip he bagged one of the largest moose racks ever taken out of the Ontario province. His instincts for coaching also carried over to the outdoors as he has taught his sons and grandsons how to hunt and fish.
Dick is survived by his wife of over 50 years, Roberta "Bobbie." He is also survived by his sons, Tom, of Denver, Colo., Mark, of South Bend, Ind., and his two children, Leslie and Anthony, and Douglas, of Kalkaska, and his wife, Sherry and their two boys, Preston and Brayden. Also surviving are two great-grandchildren; one sister; and three brothers.
He was preceded in death by his parents, foster parents, four sisters and three brothers.
Per his request, there will not be a funeral. A casual visitation will take place on Friday, Jan. 11, from 4 to 8 p.m., with a short military service at 6 p.m., at the Reynolds Jonkhoff Funeral Home in Traverse City. A celebration of life luncheon for all of those who would like to attend will be held at the home of his son, Doug on Saturday, Jan. 12, from 1 to 5 p.m., at 2341 White Pine Drive, Kalkaska, MI 49646.
In lieu of flowers, Dick wanted all memorials to assist in furthering youth baseball. The family will direct all memorial contributions to the Kalkaska High School Baseball program to aid in the purchase of equipment and new uniforms. Checks can be made out to Richard James/Kalkaska Baseball and be mailed or dropped off in person at the East Traverse Catholic Federal Credit Union located on Veterans Drive in Traverse City. Their mailing address is ETCFCU, PO Box 949, Traverse City, MI 49685-0949.
Please sign Dick's online guestbook at www.reynolds-jonkhoff.com.
The family is being served by the Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral Home.