Sept. 25, 1931 - Feb. 5, 2017 James Gordon McWilliam died on Sunday, Feb. 5, in a care facility in Pocatello, ID, from complications resulting from a fall at home on Jan. 11 in which he broke his neck. Jim was born in Sacramento, CA, on Sept. 25, 1931, to William Wallace McWilliam and Ruth Burke Gordon. He was proud of being the fourth generation of his father's family born in California. He was raised in Woodland, and attended local public schools except for grade four, when he was enrolled at Holy Rosary Academy in Woodland, and grade seven where he attended Christian Brothers' School in Sacramento. He graduated from Woodland High School in 1949 where he was a yell leader, swam competitively and was selected to attend Boys State. Following high school, he attended Menlo Junior College for a year in preparation for admission to Stanford University. He attended Stanford for two years before volunteering for the draft. He spent two years as a private in the U.S. Army. He spent his entire army career stationed in California in a variety of assignments including working as a medic and company clerk. After his Army service, his next stop was the ski slopes of Squaw Valley where he held a variety of jobs including playing folk songs in a bar. The highlight of his music career was one evening, playing backup for Lena Horne. He auditioned with several music companies to release his collection of folk songs but was never "discovered". Finally, after not making progress in the music field, he enrolled in the University of California Davis where he graduated in 1958 in a new program where he completed three minors: mathematics, physics and chemistry. Following graduation, he worked as a chemist for Canada Dry Corporation. Then with a partner, he left Canada Dry to build their own consulting business to prepare companies, in the food industry, to pass health inspection rules. When his partner died unexpectedly at age 29, Jim was forced to sell the business. He then took a position with National Can Corporation in San Francisco as a research chemist. Jim met his wife-to-be, Carole Baldwin, at a performance of Most Happy Fellow. They were married on Aug. 3, 1963, and two years later purchased a home in Mill Valley, across the Golden Gate Bridge. In 1967 their son Andrew was born. Then, National Can was going to transfer Jim to Chicago. Rather than moving to Chicago, Jim decided to return to graduate school at Idaho State University in preparation to be an environmentalist. Jim completed a master's degree in botany and went to work for the State of Idaho in air quality control. Later Jim went to work for JR Simplot as an environmentalist until he retired in 1998. Jim was an avid fly fisherman and loved back packing in the Beartooth Mountains. He also participated in white water rafting in Canada, Wyoming, Colorado, Idaho and Utah. He was an enthusiastic hunter for deer and elk despite his lack of success. Downhill skiing was his favorite activity and he participated in family outings until his late 70s. Jim spent many hours collecting limericks and classifying them by topic. As of three years ago he had over 1.3 million in his collection and could recite an untold number. Jim is survived by his wife of 53 years, Carole Baldwin McWilliam; his son, Andrew Gordon McWilliam; his granddaughters, Linnea McWilliam and Annika McWilliam, and daughter-in-law, Anne-Mette Andersen; his sister, Myrna Towle; nephews, Robert and William Towle, and 18 first cousins. Jim's wishes were that he be cremated and that no viewing be held. A Memorial service was held at the First Presbyterian Church, Pocatello, ID, on Feb. 11. Contributions may be made to individual charities in Jim's memory, or to the Pocatello High School Foundation, 325 North Arthur, Pocatello, ID 83204.
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