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Paul Richard James, age 64 of Annandale. Passed away Dec. 24th. Preceded in death by his granddaughter, Kailey Marie, father, Dick and his brother, Steve. Survived by daughters, Nissa James and Julie (Jason) Miller, grandchildren, Evertt, Carregan, Layne and Maverik, mother, Rita James, brothers, John (Lisa) James, Tom (Peggy) James and many loving relatives and friends.
Celebrating the Life and Legacy of Paul R. James Beloved Son, Father, Grandfather, Brother, Uncle, Friend, and Neighbor. In the early morning hours of Christmas Eve, Paul R. James left this world after more than decade long and very courageous battle with early-onset, fast-progressing Parkinson’s Disease. Paul arrived into this world on May 7, 1959, in Carrizozo, New Mexico to parents Richard (Dick) and Rita James while Dick served in the Army. Growing up in Maple Plain, MN with his brothers -- John, Steve, and Tom -- the four boys were often referred to as “The James Boys.” As children, the boys may have been found dragging G.I. Joe action figures behind their mother’s car as she ran errands; as adolescents and then young men, the boys were well-known for their engaging personalities, commitment to family, and generosity of spirit.
From the time he was a child until the time he left us, Paul was often the source of humorous antics as his ever-present mischievous nature meant he was a lover of practical jokes. From “dribble cans” at family affairs to the fingerprints left on the meticulously clean sunglasses of his brother to leaving Mountain Dew cans on the steps of houses of family, friends, and neighbors to let them know he had stopped by to connect if they weren’t home, Paul always found a way to bring love and humor into the lives of those around him. Throughout his life, and despite the challenges he faced, Paul retained that rare spark that only comes from being able to experience moments of joy continually and truly in the world around you. As a result, Paul was able to bring moments of happiness and laughter into the hearts of those he knew and those he newly met, leaving every person a little bit better just for knowing him.
People were drawn to him, whether it was lifelong friends, neighbors, or community members who stopped upon first meeting him just to share a joke and moment of laughter. This characteristic of being able to create connection in the smallest of moments is part of his legacy, passed onto his daughters, Nissa and Julie, and to Kailey Marie, his treasured first granddaughter. The loss of his younger brother, Steve on August 28, 2004, followed by the loss of Kailey Marie to a tragic car accident on July 1, 2021, were two of the only times in Paul’s life where his family saw that infectious spark he had always retained dim for a period of time.
Paul’s commitment to his family was unwavering. From the moment he first became a father on January 16, 1980, welcoming daughter Nissa Lynn with his wife, Teena, followed by the arrival of his second daughter, Julie Anna, on September 7, 1983, his devotion to his family was clear in the way he established his priorities. Paul set an example his daughters strive to emulate with their own families regardless of how busy or trying the world is at any given moment because of who he was as a father to them. As a father, Paul always made time to tell his girls how much he loved them, to educate them about the world, to teach them how to appreciate nature and the importance of conservation, and to counsel them through whatever challenges they faced as children, adolescents, and then as adults. He was always there for those he loved, as evidenced by the fact it was rare for him to not answer an incoming call and just “be there” when needed.
In fact, Paul’s commitment to always being present for those he loved led to his presence at his grandchildren’s arrivals into this world, beginning with Kailey Marie. Paul then traveled to Virginia to welcome his first grandson, Everett, and was one of the first people to hold Everett in the hospital. Just a year later, Paul made his first trip outside of the country, traveling to England to care for Everett during the arrival of Carregan, Nissa’s daughter and Paul’s second granddaughter, in London. Without missing a beat, Paul left the transatlantic flight, traveled to the hospital, and took his first English train with Everett in tow to the countryside, doting on him to make certain Everett knew the arrival of a younger sister would not change how loved he was by his Papa. His second grandson, Layne, arrived the same year, followed by grandson Maverik in 2014. Paul ensured that his grandchildren knew how much he loved them, just as Paul always made certain his daughters knew the same. His commitment to spending time with his grandchildren was evident in the time he spent fishing with Kailey and watching Layne’s baseball games with his son-in-law, Jason. “You can do anything you set your mind to” and “Don’t be afraid to fail – use those experiences to learn and know you are loved regardless” were guiding phrases for steering his daughters and grandchildren through their pivotal moments in life.
A devoted son and brother, Paul rarely missed a James Family holiday gathering. He looked forward to showing off his grilling expertise, to playing cards and lawn games, and provoking at least one of his brothers. He called his mother often, and enjoyed stopping by to see her frequently as he always needed to know she was doing well, and even more so after the death of his father in 2019. He considered his mother to be one of his best friends, and he loved the moments he had with her, making cookies, playing cards, visiting friends, and spending time in Arizona together to escape the Minnesota winters in recent years.
Paul’s intelligence and thoughtful nature made him a gifted solver of problems (he never met a puzzle he couldn’t finish), meticulous carpenter, and highly skilled arborist/tree trimmer. He was creative and loved to tinker, enjoying time spent on woodworking projects, classic cars and of course, his Harley motorcycle. Paul’s love of the natural world was clear in the time he spent admiring all of it – sunrises, sunsets, wildlife, lakes, mountains, the desert flowers – and just appreciating the simple pleasures that so many take for granted.
In the words of Kailey Marie, her Papa was the “nicest, sweetest, most generous and honest person” she knew, and her “most favorite person in the entire world.” This was Paul’s legacy for those he left behind -- his generosity of spirit, unending kindness, utmost integrity, and honest nature made everyone fortunate to have him in their lives.
A celebration of Paul’s life and legacy will be held at Rettinger’s Funeral Home in Long Lake, MN on Tuesday, May 7, 2024, from 4:00 to 8:00 PM on the day that would have been his 65th birthday. In lieu of flowers, Paul’s family requests that those who loved him contribute to the Parkinson’s Foundation (https://www.parkinson.org/) to honor Paul’s commitment to always helping others.