James was born August 20, 1946, to James David and Mae Elizabeth (Broomfield) Handy, in Mineral Wells, Palo Pinto County, Texas. He moved to Carlsbad, New Mexico, in 1963 with his family.
After graduating from Carlsbad Senior High School in 1964, he attended college at New Mexico State University - Carlsbad Branch, and the following year he joined the United States Navy
. As a veteran of the Vietnam War
, James served on the USS Manley, DD-940 from 1966-1967, where he specialized in communications, in the OI Division. Upon his release from the Navy, he moved to Fort Worth, Texas, where he worked at General Dynamics, now known as Lockheed-Martin.
In 1981, James moved back to Carlsbad, New Mexico, and began working at International Minerals and Chemicals Corp., where he worked until his retirement.
James married Anita Lou Avent Grass on July 31, 1988, and became the instant father of three daughters: Tammy Grass Dean, Eva Grass and Rhonda Grass, who preceded James in death on February 7, 2004. James enjoyed playing cards with family and he loved the outdoors, especially fishing. He also enjoyed making jewelry with his mother, who preceded him in death on April 4, 2008.
He was a member of the Roadrunner Gems and Minerals Club of Carlsbad and Roswell Rock Club, the Carlsbad Automotive Restoration Society (CARS) and the American Legion. He was also a member of the Cavern Baptist Church.
Survivors included his wife of the home, Anita Handy; two daughters: Eva Grass and Tammy Dean, both of Carlsbad; and seven grandchildren. He is also survived by his sisters: Linda Hicks of Carlsbad, Jean Burgin of Big Pine Key, Florida, and Liz Broadstreet of Lubbock, Texas; a very special aunt, Murel Taylor of Fort Worth, Texas; and various nieces and nephews.
A memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday, April 6, at Cavern Baptist Church, with Pastor Dick Means officiating.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Noah's Ark Animal Shelter, 5217 Buena Vista Dr., Carlsbad, NM 88220 or to Jonah's Food Pantry, 209 N. Guadalupe St., Carlsbad, NM 88220. Condolences may be expressed at dentonwood.com.