Ocean Beach 11

James Edward McLain

September 11, 1936 ~ March 11, 2022 (age 85)


James Edward McLain

Passed away peacefully on Friday, March 11th, 2022, at the age of 85. He was born on September 11th, 1936, in Detroit, Michigan and was the only son of Vern and Leila McLain.

He grew up on Yosemite in Detroit. Since he was an only child, he was glad to have the companionship of his cousins. They were his closest playmates. He liked riding his bike, playing cards, and listening to Tiger baseball on the radio. He had a paper route and was a sports enthusiast at an early age. Jim also loved airplanes, and he was known to run outside and look at them flying overhead.

After graduating from MacKenzie High School, he worked as a mail clerk for Campbell Ewald in Detroit. Later, the family moved to the house on Deering in Livonia. Jim started bowling and had a long tenure on a league at Merri-Bowl in Livonia. He had the same locker there all those years.

Jim was glad to be part of an extended family. He looked forward to holidays and family parties. He stood up in several weddings and was also asked to be Godfather to his cousin, Janie.

In the early seventies, his father retired and the family moved to Dunedin, Florida. Jim was employed for twenty years at a local grocery store, Publix, where he was a hard worker and was well-liked. He was also in a bowling league and served as a long-time usher at his church.

Jim was especially close to his mom and they liked to travel. They ventured out west to Las Vegas, up to Niagara Falls, and even toured Washington, D.C. They also enjoyed exploring different parts of Florida such as Homosassa Springs and the Atlantic coast.

For someone with high-functioning autism, Jim had his share of challenges, but he stood out as special in many ways. He had an excellent memory for numbers, dates, and facts. Math was his strength and he had a near encyclopedic knowledge of sports statistics. People used to quiz him on the capitals of all the states. He also had a keen sense of direction- you never had to worry about Jim getting lost.

He lived successfully on his own after his parents passed away. His next-door neighbors, Bob and Penny, always took an interest and looked out for him. Jim had his way of planning out his days and weeks, finding comfort in routines. Errands and chores were scheduled around game shows and sports programming. He had daily rituals such as setting out the flag in the morning and taking it back in before sundown. He ate particular foods on certain days of the week. His cousin John, who liked to stir the pot, would sometimes ask, “Hey Jim! Did you enjoy your pancakes this morning?” In reply, Jim would correct him and say, “No, Johnny. You know on Saturdays I always have French Toast.”

Jim always loved traveling back up to Michigan for his yearly vacation to escape the Florida heat. He was glad to see his aunts, uncles, and cousins, along with his good friend and bowling teammate, Gene Carroll. Family get-togethers were a highlight of the summer because he got to see everyone. In addition, he loved taking some fun day trips, like going downtown to a Tigers’ game or heading up to Frankenmuth, where he could have the ultimate chicken dinner. Cousins from his mother’s side, Colleen, and her late sister, Sandy, used to take Jim out for prime rib each year. Colleen talked about how nice it was to reconnect as adults as they seldom visited as children.

Remembering loved ones who have passed away was also important to Jim. He always made an effort to get out to the cemetery to put flowers on his grandparents’ graves. He spent a lot of time with his mom’s parents, Otellia and Edvard Christianson who came from Norway. Jim knew his grandma on his dad’s side, Clementine, very well as she lived with them for the last few years of her life. Although his paternal grandpa, James, died before Jim was born, there was a sense of attachment as he was named after him.

Jim lived in The Sunshine State for more than forty years, but he moved back up to Michigan in 2014 to be closer to family. He had an apartment at Brashear Towers in Livonia. His cousins, John, Mary Ann, Janie, Bev, and their spouses, joined together in looking after his needs. When he could no longer drive, they took him to his appointments, the grocery store, and out to dinner- his favorite.

After hip surgery, Jim transitioned to a private care home in Farmington Hills. He did well at the new location. He had his own room, good food, and a nice television for keeping up with sports. Ms. Blannon, a long-time manager, spoke of him highly and was happy to have him as resident. Valary, the current head caregiver, talked at length about how much she enjoyed cooking for him. She would often pull up a chair during a Lions’ game or to watch church on TV. He even asked if she could be the one to pick him up once he was released from the hospital. She said that he was always easy to please, appreciated the little things and never complained.

Upon his passing, Jim was transferred from Beaumont Hospital and taken into care at the Fred Wood Funeral Home. He took one last plane trip south and was interred alongside his parents on Friday, March 18th, at Curlew Hills Memory Gardens in Palm Harbor, Florida.

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