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James Gus Changaris

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James Gus Changaris Obituary

March 21, 1926 - February 3, 2013

James Gus Changaris aka (Popou) or (Judge) passed away peacefully surrounded by his wife Lois and loving children and grandchildren, Sunday February 3, 2013 in his residence at Glenview/ La Costa Glen, Carlsbad, California. He had battled dementia the past several years. He was 86 years old.

James was born in Marysville, CA to immigrants from Thana, Greece. He was the second of four brothers. He grew up in Marysville, CA. He had a brief stint in 1942 playing baseball for the semi pro team the Yuba City Bears. He joined the Navy in 1944 and on his discharge attended Yuba College as well as UC Berkeley. He attended the University of San Francisco Law School where he earned his JD in 1951. He married Lois Shingle in 1952 and together they had five children, Georgia, Michael, Andrea, Jami and Thomas. Sadly, Thomas died at age 24 in 1985 of testicular cancer.

James established a legal practice in Yuba City in 1953 where he practiced all areas of law until 1972. Early in his practice he also served as a part time district attorney. While in private practice he served as general counsel to Perrini Corporation and Baldwin Contracting Company. He was one of the most respected attorneys in Northern California. In 1972 Governor Ronald Reagan appointed him as judge to the Superior Court of Sutter County, where he served until 1980. Following his tenure on the bench, he served as a mediator with JAMS (Judicial Arbitration Mediation Service) until 2001 providing dispute resolution services in northern California. In addition to his legal expertise, James was a businessman owning/developing several pieces of commercial property in northern California and an almond and prune ranch. He served his Greek Orthodox Church, the Yuba City Unified School District board for 10 years and the Rideout Memorial Hospital board for 15 years. He was involved in the leadership of several other organizations in Yuba City, including the Rotary Club and Beale Air Force Base. He served Beale Air Force Base since its establishment in 1942. He received the first BAFB High Flyer award in 2000 recognizing him as a community leader having provided exceptional long-term support. To his thrill, the award included a "fly over". James was instrumental in leading a successful battle to keep BAFB from being closed down, when the government was rationalizing the number of bases it operated. He was a friend and mentor to many, valued for his integrity, intelligence, insight and tenacity.

James enjoyed many hobbies including golf, tennis, hunting, fishing, poker, and dominoes, but his favorite hobby was his children and 12 grandchildren. He was creative in developing his children's interests in sports, including snow skiing and water skiing (sports he never tried himself) and golf. He loved the family annual summers at Aptos Beach, CA with all the children and grandchildren. The family rented the same house in Aptos from 1962 until 2008 where memories were created each year. The family had a blessed and privileged time as a large family.

James instilled a love of God in his family. He and his wife Lois set an example in worship and in life. He was very committed to the Greek Orthodox Church and, to that end, established a scholarship fund for seminarians at the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, MA, in memory of his deceased youngest son Tom.

There are many things the family will miss about James. His ability to lead a discussion on almost any subject was hugely entertaining. His wisdom and raw intelligence were traits his family was proud of â€" he never lacked for offering advice, wisdom and counsel. Day after day, he made clear the importance of devotion, commitment, integrity, loyalty and faithfulness, not simply "telling", but by his daily actions. Every task, even the smallest deserved a best effort. His willingness to help and assist people in need was displayed and modeled throughout his life. But the thing that will be missed most by his family is the unconditional love that he poured out on them. There is no relationship on earth that resembles the love God the Father has for His children, as well as the love a wonderful parent has for his children. The family will sorely miss the power of the love our father had for each member of his family.

James is survived by Lois, his sweet wife of 62 years, his four adored children Georgia, Michael, Andrea and Jami and their spouses, and his twelve grandchildren and one grandson-in-law, as well as several nieces, nephews, and many dear friends.

The family is collecting stories about James's life. If you would like to share an experience or story involving James, the family would welcome hearing from you. The address for mailing stories or condolences is Lois Changaris, 2075 Lemonberry Lane, Carlsbad, CA. Notes can also be emailed to loischangaris@gmail.com

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Thomas W. Changaris Foundation, a 501c3 organization benefiting causes of education and poverty, at 423 Sandalwood Court, Encinitas, CA 92024.

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Published in Appeal Democrat on Feb. 10, 2013
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