Arthur James was born in Beaverton, Oregon in 1952 and died in a kayak accident near Neah Bay in April 2022.
Art loved the ocean and landscapes outside of cities. He was 69 years old.
He grew up the fourth child in a family of five in a rural area just west of Portland. He attended Sunset High School in Beaverton. His mother’s maiden name was Martha Lehman, and she was the daughter of pioneers to the area around Cornell Road and Bethany in Beaverton. His comic ability and love of humor were obvious even when he was tiny.
He attended both the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon and the University of California at Santa Barbara. He lived in the San Francisco area for a while while he worked as a broker for Wilbur Ellis Company. He moved to Seattle in about 1982 and lived in the Queen Anne area while staying with his job at Wilbur Ellis. But he was drawn to creating artwork. He eventually saved up to spend some years as what he called a “bohemian.”
He built some outdoor sculptures that floated on small ponds. One group of floating works was exhibited at Seattle Center in 1986. While he was rooted in the outdoors, he did love thinking about abstract art and philosophy. After the bohemian period, he returned to work as a headhunter, placing people in jobs in the fish and food industries that he knew so well. He loved interviewing potential hires.
Art lived in the Federal Way area for quite a few years, fishing off Browns Point.
As he grew closer to retirement age, he wanted to spend all of his time outdoors, so he went to work for Trophy Lake golf club in Port Orchard as a groundskeeper. He was a talented golfer, beginning in his teens.
These years brought him enormous joy, as he spent his time outside of office life and office dramas.
When he retired from Trophy Lake, he moved to the Port Townsend area and began a new routine of working for Wildflower Landscaping. Art enjoyed getting to know the places he cared for, but he also enjoyed getting to know the many people behind those landscapes.
When he truly retired from Wildflower, he could not help visiting some of his former clients and their beautiful orchards and gardens.
Always, he was kayaking and fishing and giving away fish all summer. No freezer could hold all that he caught. He had many favorite places to fish — including the Quillayute River and near Neah Bay. He kept most of these places a bit of a secret, in the way of most fishermen. He loved harvesting geoduck clams and razor clams, each in their season.
Art lived in Port Orchard, Port Ludlow, Port Townsend and Sequim in his time in the area. He was a frequent writer of letters, often to the editors of newspapers and was proud of how many got published. His letters were published in The New York Times and Seattle Times, among other places. He regularly made suggestions to the Department of Fish and Wildlife and other state agencies to try to improve their services to fishers and recreation folks.
Art is survived by his sister, Sally James of Seattle and her partner, Richard Apfel; brother, Thomas James of Homer, Alaska, and his wife, Colleen; brother, Chris James of Portland, Oregon, and his wife, Danielle Braud; sister-in-law, Barbara James of Seattle; half-brother, Andrew James and his wife, Kathy Salyer, of Seaside, Oregon. He is also survived by nieces and nephews from Florida, Indiana, California, Oregon, Alaska, and Washington and great-nieces and nephews in many of those states.
Art was predeceased by his brother, Matt of Salem, Oregon.
Art was a generous donor to charities of many kinds. He served meals on many Thanksgivings as a volunteer so others could be with their families. If you wish to make a donation — two of Art’s favorite environmental charities were North Peninsula Conservancy and Columbia (River) Land Trust.
The family is planning a memorial service for 1 p.m. Sunday, June 26 at the Maritime Center in Port Townsend, Washington. All are welcome.