James Harris Booth was born on December 22,1946 in Rockford, Illinois. He was 73 at the time of his passing on April 25, 2020.. Jim passed peacefully after a brief illness from the Coronavirus, and complications from Parkinson’s which Jim dealt from his early 40s. His last eleven months of life were spent in a nursing home- but he was always amazingly upbeat and cheerful.
Jim was the oldest of three children of Burton and Velma Booth. His father was an architect and his mother a gifted painter and housewife. He is survived by his wife Beverly of Denver, his brother Doug of Sophia, North Carolina and his sister Carolyn of White Fish Bay, Wisconsin.
His siblings have fond memories of growing up with Jim. Caroline tells the story about Jim getting kicked out of a hometown movie theater along with his siblings and several friends after he yelled out during the movie ‘The Sound of Music’, in a particularly tense scene of the family hiding from the Nazis, “For God’s sake, don’t sing now!”
Caroline remembers that Jim made friends no matter where he went. Even when they went out to dinner Jim made sure to get to know the waitress.
Jim’s brother Doug also has a number of stories about Jim, as follows:
“My sister Carolyn was dating Dave, who became her husband. Any time he called, she would run from her bedroom, through the living room, to the kitchen, where the phone was.
One time Jim and I were lying on the living room floor watching TV (before remotes). We were both too lazy to get up to change the channel, so Jim yelled at Carolyn with a lie that Dave was calling. As she ran through the living room, we asked her to change the channel, which she did. But when she found out that it was a trick, she came back mad and turned off the TV. I'm pretty sure it was I who had to get up and turn it back on.
Every so often the family would travel up to Beloit, Wisconsin, to a restaurant called the Corral for the Friday night all you can eat perch. Jim and I would compete to see who could eat the most perch. Jim always won. I'm sure the Corral lost money on us. It was about a half hour ride back home to Rockford, and when we got there, Jim would eat ice cream and potato chips, while I was too stuffed to eat anything.
Blue Star potato chips was a Rockford company, and Jim ate a lot of their potato chips. One day they changed their formula. Jim wrote a letter of complaint, and a few days later a car from Blue Star pulled up and gave Jim several bags of free Blue Star products.” These vignettes sound true to the Jim we all knew and loved.
Jim attended the University of Wisconsin at Plattville, joined Delta Sigma Phi fraternity, and graduated with a major in political science. He graduated in 1968. Years later, Jim obtained his Master’s in Business from University of Colorado, Denver. After graduation from college he enlisted in the Army during the Vietnam War period. Because of Lady Fortune and some knowledge of photography that Jim had, he spent his service time in the White House photo lab during the Nixon administration. He had many stories to tell about his experiences there, and lots of pictures of the Nixon family that he kept.
While in Washington Jim got a part time job, aside from his White House stint, selling beer, popcorn and peanuts at professional athletic events. You can just imagine him hawking his wares and getting tips from the fans.
Those who attended Nuggets, Broncos or Rockies events with Jim recall his good-natured rants at the officials, such as “I’ve seen better eyes on a potato!” He carried on more for the effect of those seated near him than for any malice toward the officials- and he always got a rise out of or a bewildered look or two from fans.
After his military service Jim came out to Denver and began working in sales. He found out that he could do sales calls and play golf, at the same time! He had a multitude of stories about selling various products, but always about the personalities with whom he interacted. He reveled in people stories. Eventually he joined the CD Jones Company, an HVAC Wholesale Distributor in Denver and was there for 15 years, again making many new friendships and learning the ins and outs of a whole new industry, but still utilizing his considerable sales skills. The next step in his career, as described below, was to work for himself as a consultant in the HVAC industry concentrating on development and presentation of seminars for training technicians.
Jim was Mr. All Sports Guy. He loved all types of sports but particularly enjoyed golf and tennis. One of his friends noted when he first met Jim for a tennis game at Washington Park in Denver that when Jim opened the trunk of his beloved ‘Blue Goose’ car, it was filled with equipment for every possible sport- baseball bat, glove and balls; golf bag and shoes; volleyballs and net; and so forth.
One of Jim’s best golf shots ever was witnessed by three of his good golfing buddies- he hit a long second shot into the cup on a par 4 for an eagle on the most difficult hole on the course, from a downhill lie, over a ravine, water and sand. We heard about that shot for many years to follow.
Jim had lots of friends. In fact, he made friends to the day he died. The doctors that treated him in the hospital, the care attendants in the nursing home all cared about him. And, he kept many of those friends for life. More than a few of his Denver friends knew him for 40 years+.
Jim seemed to be the proverbial bachelor. Friends started to wonder if any woman would ever capture his devotion. But at his 25th high school reunion in Rockford, Illinois, Jim met his wife to be, Bev Johnson. Bev, who barely knew Jim in high school, decided to attend the reunion. Fate brought them together. Bev let Jim know that she lived in Denver and when they got back to Denver they immediately started to date and married within the year. As Bev states, “It was just so easy. We were so compatible and there was no hesitation.” They married on June 2, 1990. June of 2020 was to be their 30th wedding anniversary.
Their second year of marriage was spent at a family cabin in the woods in Highpoint, North Carolina. Truly a high point in their lives. They loved living at the cabin and it was there that they literally found their special dog, Daisy. This was Jim’s second dog. Many of you will remember Babe, the black Labrador who trailed Jim around during his bachelor days. Jim and Bev shared a great love for animals and especially for Daisy. During this time in the woods of North Carolina Jim became very proficient in the use of computers and creating graphics which served him well in his business career.
It was also at this time that a doctor friend of theirs first diagnosed Jim with early onset Parkinson’s. For a man who reveled in sports it was a terrible disease to deal with. However, Jim was a “never say never” kind of guy and he kept up his sports far beyond most men who had the disease.
Jim’s balance was gradually greatly affected by his Parkinson’s. As time and the Parkinson’s progressed, he had a tough time initiating movement. So, he would stand and look at the golf ball and talk to it until he could start his swing. And darned if he wouldn’t hit it amazingly well to the astonishment of his buddies.
Jim became an associate with Jim Grandy and Associates which was a business consulting firm. He developed a course that he presented to companies in the Heating and Air Conditioning field, to train their sales force. Needless to say there was a lot of practical advice sprinkled with stories and good humor.
There came a time when Jim could no longer travel and present classes because of his Parkinson’s. Not to be stopped, he spent the good part of a year writing and producing an extensive manual that he would market to the heating and air conditioning clients. It was a heroic effort to continue to be productive, but frustrating to him in that the Parkinson’s prevented his ability to fully market the product.
When Bev came into his life, she introduced him to St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral in downtown Denver. Jim surprised his friends again by becoming totally involved in the church. He loved the church and the people and found religion! Jim became an usher and eventually became the Head Usher. He also served on the Vestry (church council) for three years. He is loved and remembered by many in the church. Jim’s ashes will be interred along the All Souls Walk which is located just outside of the Cathedral. A memorial service will be held at a future date to be determined to commemorate Jim at the Cathedral.
Jim was an amazingly upbeat, positive, outgoing person. He loved jokes. Even when he could hardly speak he would try to tell jokes. Although he suffered with Parkinson’s he never lost his sunny disposition.
Jim, you will be missed but we know you are now freed from a body that no longer served your largesse for life and are now in a place where your boundless enthusiasm, enormous love of life and beautiful love for friends, family and just people in general can be fully realized!
Those who desire to make a contribution in Jim’s memory may do so to St. John’s Cathedral, 1350 N. Washington St., Denver, CO 80203; or The Denver Hospice, 501 S. Cherry St., Suite 700, Denver, CO 80246; or the charity of their choice. And if you would like to mail a card or note to Bev, her address is c/o Eastern Star Retirement Campus, 2445 S. Quebec St., Denver 80231.
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