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Harry W. James

September 16, 1952 ~ March 4, 2022 (age 69)


Some people are just too stubborn to die easily.  So can be said of Harry W. James (69) who passed away on March 4th, 2022 following a seventeen year battle with cancer. Harry was born on September 16th, 1952 to Marjorie and Harry James of Ithaca, NY.  The second born of five children, but number one in his Mother’s heart, and everyone knew it.  The James household in Newfield, NY was known to be full of fun and mischief, of which Harry played a star role.   

In high school, Harry was a standout athlete participating in football, basketball, baseball and anything else he could get his hands on.  His mother never worried about where he was because she could always find him on the tennis courts shooting hoops at the school. Harry was ultimately inducted into Newfield’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2001. In adulthood he continued his athletic career playing recreational basketball and softball and went on to coach his children on various sport teams and, as an avid fan, followed their athletic endeavors over the years.

In 1969, Harry and his friend Curt Ostrander started Newfield’s first garbage pick up service quickly establishing 20 customers. As their business picked up they brought on the help of Mike Schultz and Tom Fish. When it became more than he could manage, Harry sold James Disposal in 1981 to what became Casella Waste…Thanks Dad, we could have been heirs to a trash empire.  Speaking of trash, we would be remiss to not mention Harry’s lifelong hobby of rescuing orphaned trash pandas, a.k.a. raccoons.  Pictures from his young adulthood show that he had been doing this for decades.

Following high school, Harry attended Corning Community College and SUNY Brockport where he participated in varsity football and nearly missed out on receiving his diploma as a result of streaking at his graduation ceremony.  We are told this sort of activity may have started as early as high school, as Harry was deemed “the naked runner” in his senior year book; anyone familiar with these stories is warmly encouraged to reach out to the family.

Harry landed a rewarding job at Willard Psychiatric Center where he began a meaningful 25-year career working directly with patients in rehabilitation services. As Willard closed their doors, he found himself working another 9 years at the Elmira Psychiatric Center where he retired in 2007 as he continued a long battle with lung and tonsil cancer.  Later, he went back to working in high profile jobs at Ron Don’s, the Trumansburg Golf Course, Bus Driver, as well as the Tompkins County Airport…just long enough to work out a free golf trip with his buddies.  Harry was a known character at the Trumansburg Golf Course, where he spent a good portion of his retired years.

While Harry loved his hobbies, work, and the people at Willard, his appreciation and passion for life could best be seen through the relationship he had with his two children Lisa and Derek, as well as his five grandchildren.  Harry was more than a support system to his kids, he was a cherished friend.  His grandchildren adored him and have fond memories of their Papa.

Despite thriving on being a pain in the ass to many, stories shared of Harry’s life are embedded with his iconic dry and sarcastic humor, but with a resounding theme of how much we are all going to miss that from him.  Lisa and Derek grew up hearing stories of Harry’s near-death experiences throughout his life—including a fall through the high school gym roof and being ran over by a car at 4 years old while hiding in a leaf pile.  His long fought and brave battle against cancer was just one more of those—we all knew he was living on borrowed time and are grateful for every moment he spent fighting to enable more time with his family.

Harry is predeceased by his father Harry James and brother Charlie James.  He is survived by his mother Marjorie James; his children: Lisa James and Derek (Brittany) James; siblings: Carl (Terri) James, Sue (Jamie) Bobnick, and Frank James; half sibling: Barbara (Slotteo) Ruggiero; dear friend Libbie Day; grandchildren: Taylor Bennion; Cora and Bradley Anderson, Logan and Skylar James; several nieces and nephews, and his cat, Elroy.

To honor Harry’s spirit animal, the raccoon, and in lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to: Stay Wild Rescue of 5920 Searsburg Road, Trumansburg, NY https://www.staywildrescue.com/ in memory of Harry.  Harry was loved by many and will be greatly missed.  We invite his friends, family, and anyone he loved to banter with to celebrate his life at 2pm on April 16th, 2022 at the Trumansburg Golf Course.

Serenity now, insanity later…

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Harry W. James, please visit our floral store.


Celebration of Life
April 16, 2022

2:00 PM to 6:00 PM
Trumansburg Golf Course
23 Halsey Street
Trumansburg, NY 14886


Stay Wild Rescue
5920 Searsburg Road, Trumansburg NY 14886
Web: https://www.staywildrescue.com/

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