ODESSA A member of the Exclusive Club Known as America's Greatest Generation, Aaron Leon James ended his journey in this world on April 24, 2013, at the Hospice House in Odessa, TX, at the age of 90. |
His journey began March 17, 1923, in Mertzon, TX. He was the first born son to Eural and Ethel James. He was raised in Ft. Stockton, TX, in the 1920's and the 1930's. When he wasn't in school, he and his younger brother, Lloyd, worked with their father to help the family get by during the hard times.
He graduated from Ft. Stockton High School in 1940. He drove a truck for Sunset Motor Freight until he was drafted in 1943. He served in the Army with the 407th Command Field Artillery Battalion, which was put ashore at Omaha Beach the first week of October 1944. At this point, they began their march against the German Army through Normandy, France, Belgium, and Southern Holland. They were advancing through Western Germany in early December when the Germans attacked in Belgium in what became known as The Battle of the Bulge. The Battalion withdrew to the Aachen area of Germany where they became part of the Northern Shoulder of the Bulge. When the German attack fell apart, they continued their march through Western Germany. In January, February, and early March, they found themselves on the West Bank of the Rhine River devoid of any ammunition for 3 days because they had outrun their supply lines. They crossed the Rhine River at Cologne, Germany, and continued their advance across Germany into Austria when the Germans finally surrendered. He then served with the Occupational Forces until he was discharged from the Army in February 1946.
The experience of being a participant in full scale warfare left an indelible mark on him that he would carry the rest of his life. One of which there was to be no Spam in his house because when he served in the Army, all they had to eat for 30 days was Spam. Another was his ability to face his own mortality which became so apparent in his later years.
He met and married Aileen G. Metcalf in Monahans on November 16, 1946. They were married for 66 years until his death. They had three terrific children and a wonderful marriage.
He began working in the oilfield with his father-in-law on a drilling rig owned by R.H.O. Drilling Co. in 1948. He worked in West Texas until 1963 when he took a job working in Libya. He worked overseas until 1982. He bought a partnership in a small drilling company which fell victim to the flood of cheap oil unleashed on the market in 1986. As a result, it forced him into semi-retirement until he finally stopped working in the early 1990's.
He didn't have any hobbies. He didn't enjoy fishing because he thought it was boring. He didn't hunt because he got all the shooting out of his system during World War II.
He supported the Monahans Christian Church and was there every time services were held when he was able to attend.
He maintained his sense of humor until he departed us. The doctors and nurses would ask him how he was doing; his reply was usually, "I'm doing better than you are." The response would puzzle them. How could someone at his age and state of health be doing better than they? The doctors and nurses would ask him, "How do you figure that?" His reply would be, "because you have to work and I don't."
He worked in the cold of winter and the heat of summer to keep a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs and food on the table. He could be a strict, unyielding disciplinarian one moment, and be kind and understanding the next.
Leon was not perfect nor is anyone else, but he was a member of the generation who felt it was an obligation to be a working and industrious citizen. He won't have to watch our country and Constitution he loved and defended, at the risk of his own life, shamelessly be frittered away.
Leon is preceded in death by his father, Eural M. James; his mother, Ethel James; his brother, Lloyd James of Ft. Stockton; his sister, Lenora Lightfoot of Albuquerque, New Mexico; and his grandson, Jeremy Enoch of Ft. Smith, Arkansas.
He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Aileen James; daughter, Karon Sprague and her husband, Gerald Sprague, of Monahans; his other daughter, Rebecca Enoch and her husband, Larry Enoch, of Ft. Smith, Arkansas; and his son, David James of Odessa. Other survivors are grandson, Darren Shelton and wife Nicole, and granddaughters, Sherri Enoch and Christina Enoch. He was a great grandfather to Sydney Shelton and Daniel Shelton. He is also survived by numerous nieces and nephews.
He will be missed, but his cherished memories will remain with us.
A memorial service will be held at Harkey Funeral Home in Monahans, TX, at 11:00 A.M. on Saturday, April 27, 2013. Minister Rusty Smith will officiate along with participation from Larry Hood, Chaplain at Hospice House.
A heartfelt thanks to the nurses and doctors from Home Hospice for all the care given to Leon at home. Gratitude is also given to Dr. McLarey and the nurses at Hospice House.
In lieu of flowers, we would prefer that donations be given to the Hospice House in Odessa, TX.
Published in Odessa American on Apr. 26, 2013