In memory of a good dad and good writer

I got a phone call from my friend Paul last Sunday night. It felt like a punch to the gut.

James Lee had passed away, he said.

That just didn’t seem possible. James was a young man of 39. He was a young father in good health. He was a God-fearing man and a deep believer and follower of Jesus Christ.

It seemed like I was just reading one of his Facebook posts. How could this be?

But cancer doesn’t care about all that. Cancer is a thief in the night. It’s a scourge on us all, and I curse its very existence. It’s deprived my kids of a grandfather. It deprived me of my cousin and of my boyhood friend when I was only eight years old and many, many more friends and acquaintances.

It just doesn’t seem fair that it’s taken James now too. I reached out to his wife Danielle to ask her to say a few words for this blog.

“We miss James so much,” she wrote me. “We love him more than words can express, but we know he is where he wants to be and is happier than ever. Mostly, no more pain and suffering.”

I met James about 10 years ago. He was a sports writer for the LA Times Community News Division where I worked. He worked in our Inland Empire offices and when those closed down, I figured out a way to keep James aboard and offered him a spot in our Costa Mesa offices. Though he had a long commute, he did the job and never complained.

He moved on later to go work for his church and do freelance writing and be closer to his family, something I totally understand.

It was only this May that James had a seizure and the tumor was discovered, Danielle said. They learned, sadly, that it was inoperable. He had radiation treatment to try and extend his time with his family but infections set in and that’s what ultimately claimed his life a week ago today. Through all his trials, he kept his faith strong.

“James never once blamed God,” Danielle said. “In fact, he used his illness to help encourage others in their own faith. He was ready to go home to Heaven. Our faith is what has gotten us through this and continues to do so for those of us left behind.”

Besides his wife Danielle, James is survived by his two children Jimmy, 10, and Emma, 5, his parents, James and Grace, two sisters, Vivian and Joy and many, many friends and former colleagues who are heartbroken right now.

See you down the road James!

A service for James will be held this Tuesday at 3 p.m. at the Harvest Christian Fellowship Church in Riverside. It’s at 6115 Arlington Avenue, Riverside, CA 92504. (951) 687-6902. Click here for a link to the church.

Pastor of the Harvest Christian Fellowship Church Greg Laurie posted a story on his blog about James here.

Also you can read an obituary about James in the Daily Pilot here.

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5 Responses to “In memory of a good dad and good writer”

  1. Nice post, Tony. I couldn’t believe it when I heard. Great guy and great to work with. So sad. Best wishes to his family.

  2. Tony,
    Thanks for sharing this painful story about your friend, James Lee. I did follow the link to Greg Laurie’s story, too. James must have quite a guy and one who was at peace with his place in the world and the one that would follow.

  3. Steve Mensinger October 22, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    Tony,
    Very meaningful article. Perfect segway to reset my mind to what is important. I was moved by the following
    “James never once blamed God,” Danielle said. “In fact, he used his illness to help encourage others in their own faith. He was ready to go home to Heaven. Our faith is what has gotten us through this and continues to do so for those of us left behind.”
    I will keep him in my thoughts and my actions.

  4. This is a very sad news. I saw James a few times; I thought he was a cool guy. “Que En Paz Descanse”.

  5. Meredith Perkins October 23, 2010 at 9:44 am

    Tony,
    This was a great article.May God bless his family until they meet again where there is no illness or cancer. Continue success with your writing my friend.

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