James Ralph Atherton April 17, 2013 James Ralph Atherton, 83, of Visalia quietly left this earth to be with the Lord after battling several physical ailments. He was surrounded by those he cherished and loved. His wife Eunice of 62 years, his sons Richard and Randy, his last living sister, Patsy, and friends and caregivers were with him as he slipped from this world. James was born January 16, 1930 in Correna, Oklahoma to Nancy and Edgar Atherton. He was the seventh of ten children and in the early 1940s the Atherton clan packed up their Ford and moved to California, eventually settling in Woodlake. It was at Woodlake High school where James met the love of his life, Eunice. After graduating in 1950 James and Eunice married the following year and James left his young bride to proudly serve his country in the United States Navy. He was stationed in the Philippines for two years and upon returning home, he took his bride to his new assignment in Bremerton, Washington. The couple was blessed with their first child, Richard while stationed there. In 1954 James, Eunice and their young son returned to Woodlake where they set up a home and in 1958 added son Randy to the family. James found work at the Wheeling Pacific and for ten years supported his family as a foreman with the company. In 1965 James began work at the United States Postal Service, assigned to the office in Three Rivers. James loved working there and traveling Highway 198 in his 1968 yellow VW Beetle every day. When the family moved to Visalia in 1986, James continued to make that drive to Three Rivers in his trusty Bug. He proved his loyalty by staying at the Post Office until he retired in 1990. He also kept that bug until 2010 when he reluctantly sold it because physical limitations left him unable to drive it. James was a huge lover of animals and was a great "dad" to Kitty, who he cared for until he was no longer able to do so. He and Eunice were travelers extraordinaire, taking several cruises each year, visiting the Central Coast often and of course the Napa Valley wine country on special occasions. The two were well-known in the Lifestyles Gym, working out and socializing three-four times each week. They were members of Visalia Methodist Church, where Eunice still attends. In the final months of James full life, he was living under the care of Quail Park in Visalia with daily visits from Eunice and Richard. He was happy to receive the quality of care from his caregivers there and didn't pass up a moment to tease them and make them smile with his stories. When hospice services were added, James took it in stride and didn't hesitate to tease them as well. Coming from a musical family, James played the piano and the guitar with great flair and style. He loved telling stories (whether true or not) about riding horses from Woodlake to Exeter. Coming from such a large family, he had many adventures with his brothers and sisters and many stories to share. James is preceded in death by his mother and father and eight of his siblings,. He is survived by his wife Eunice of Visalia, son Richard and Christine and Goddaughter, Katlynn Bailey of Visalia; son Randy and his wife, Laura and grandchildren Ashly and Trevor of San Carlos. He has one surviving sister, Patsy vanEttinger of Visalia. James was first a son and a brother. He was a husband, a father, a grandfather, a proud veteran, a lover of animals and music and a follower of Christ. James had a great sense of humor he was willing to share with all he met. His presence will be sorely missed by those who loved him and those who cared for him. The Atherton family would like to thank the staff at Kaweah Delta District Hospital and the nurses and staff of Kaweah Delta Hospice; and a special thank you for the excellent care given to James during this difficult time at Quail Park Enhanced Assisted Living. A celebration of life will be held at Salser and Dillard Funeral Chapel on Saturday, May 25th 2013 at 11:00 a.m. In lieu of flowers, donations to Kaweah Delta Hospice at 900 W. Oak Avenue, Visalia, CA 93291; or the James Atherton Memorial Fund at Redwood Veterinary Hospital 1727 E. Mineral King, Visalia, CA 93292. Condolences may be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
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Published in Visalia Times-Delta and Tulare Adv-Register on May 21, 2013