James Lawrence "Jimmy" Gagan
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James "Jimmy" Lawrence Gagan

James "Jimmy" Lawrence Gagan, 89, returned to his heavenly home on May 1, 2020, after a short battle with cancer. His devotion to his family and his firm belief in God supported him in his struggle and ultimately gave him peace.

James was born to the late Helen and Lawrence Gagan, in Chicago, Illinois on May 6, 1930. He was the oldest of three children Patricia 'Pat' Gagan (deceased) and Lawrence 'Larry' Gagan. James only completed 8th grade at Riley Grammar in Chicago and went on to join the United States Army. He served two years from 1948-1950 as a Physical Reconditioning Instructor, and then was called for a second duty during the Korean conflict where he was stationed in France running a motion picture theater for the troops.

Upon his return to Chicago in 1952, James began working for Household Finance and spent two years as a manager in the Northwest Indiana area. His entrepreneurial fire began in in 1959 when he started Businessman's Credit and Collection Services and Doctors Service Bureau.

In 1959 he married his wife and best friend of 60 years, Claire 'Alice' Gagan.

James left his brother, Larry, in charge of Businessman's Credit and Doctors Service, and began United Penn Oil and Gas Company. Between 1963-1969, United Penn Oil and Gas drilled over 28 wells across West Virginia and Illinois. He also earned his private pilot's license and learned to fly a twin-engine plane.

In 1971, James founded United Consumers Club (Direct Buy). Direct Buy, a private buying club based in Merrillville, Indiana, grew from a napkin idea to over 173 franchises in the U.S. and Canada. Direct Buy became the largest private buying club of its kind doing over 2 billion dollars a year in products and services. He sold the business in 2007 in a private sale sharing the proceeds with the 400+ employees at home office that he said built this business. More importantly than any business impact, was the profound personal impact that James had on the employees, partners, and members of Direct Buy.

In 1996 James and a group of investors bought Bighorn Golf Club, a world class golf club in Palm Desert, California. James loved his home at Bighorn and loved golf. He purchased Innsbrook Country Club where he was a member for +40 years, and near where his kids grew up.

James' professional life was a wonderful story of the American Dream achieved through self-motivation, hard work, personal strength, perseverance, and strong faith. But above all, his family stood first.

For all those who knew him, James had the most endearing and energetic personality shining through and that charismatic and unforgettable sense of humor that would hold the attention of any room he entered.

James is survived by his wife, Claire; his son Jamie; his daughter Sarah; his grandchildren Taylor Buckley, and Chad Gagan; his great-granddaughter Olivia Buckley and his brother, Lawrence Gagan. He is preceded in death by his sister, Patricia Gagan; his parents; and his son, Jack Gagan.

James and Claire were married for 60 years and renewed their vows last November in a private family ceremony at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Palm Desert. James had three children who he loved unconditionally and above all else, Jack (deceased), Sarah, and James Jr. (Jamie). James also had the joy of spending time with his great-granddaughter who referred to him as Grandpa Bubbles. He also loved animals, especially his beloved dog Jesse who preceded him to heaven just a few days before. James raised his kids to be strong, charitable, loving, and faithful. He was a family man and loved his family deeply. He was able to spend the last few months living with his kids and was surrounded lovingly by family when he passed.

James always lived by the scripture "You are blessed to be a blessing" and gave much of his life to charitable works. He also lived by the words "There but for the grace of God go I". He was devout in his faith and prayed earnestly and read his Bible every day.

Jim will be buried in a private family service. The family gratefully declines flowers, but prayers, donations and memories are gladly accepted at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Shriners Children's Hospital, and Salvation Army




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Published in The Desert Sun from May 8 to May 10, 2020.
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MEMORIES & CONDOLENCES
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17 entries
May 30, 2020
In memory of a very caring, inspirational, and generous man. Rest in peace Mr. Gagan, from a former long term employee of UCC Inc / Directbuy Inc headquarters.
Janet
Coworker
May 20, 2020
Mr. Gagan was a great man. I got to know him through owing a United Consumers Club franchise in Lancaster, Pa. and all of the conventions he had for UCC and its franchise owners and directors. My condolences to your family
Lamar Nolt
May 18, 2020
What a great person! Very passionate not only as an individual but, also in the business with UCC Total Home / Direct Buy. It was always a joy to talk and be around him because he always gave great advice and most importantly, really cared! Sorely missed but never forgotten. God Bless! Sean
Sean Kropfeld
May 15, 2020
James Gagan was an innovative and great community leader. But most of all he will be remembered for his kindness, generosity and acceptance of others.
Kathleen Roig
Friend
May 14, 2020
I was deeply saddened by the passing of a successful, generous and full of life man who happened to be my next door neighbor. I would remember him getting his mail and surprisingly saw me in my dirty clothes gardening. We would have a short conversation about family and enjoyed his endearing sense of humor. Say hello to my Louie (taken almost a year before you). You will be playing golf together by now in heaven. You will be sorely missed Jim. Our deepest condolence to sweet Claire and family.

Kathy Bejec and family.
Kathy Bejec
Neighbor
May 10, 2020
saddened to hear of Mr. Gagans passing. He was an inspiration to so many people.
Mike Wilson
Coworker
May 10, 2020
Claire, Jamie and Sara, so sorry for your loss, he was a great man and will be missed by many, May he Rest In Peace In the arms of our Heavenly Father.
Minnie Salinas
May 9, 2020
What a beautiful tribute to a life well lived. My deepest condolences Sarah. You are living proof of the legacy your father left.
Maria Burud
Friend
May 9, 2020
Although I never met Mr. Gagan, I wish to share my condolences for a man who greatly impacted our family. He had a tremendous influence on my daughters. I was always impressed by his sense of family. Blessings to each of his family members at this time. God is good!
DoReimer
May 8, 2020
My deepest sympathies to the entire Gagan family. The world has lost a great man. Jim played such an important part in so many peoples lives. I know he played in important part in my life. Prayers for the entire Gagan family.
My and
Friend
May 8, 2020
Our prayers are with all the Gagan family at this time i enjoyed every conversation i ever had with Jim as i knew it would include asking how i and my family were doing, a sarcastic remark or ribbing and then the matter at hand! Loved seeing him in person as he was always impeccably dressed and smelled so good. I was honored to know him. Rest In Peace. JLG
Groat Tamara
Friend
May 8, 2020
As the days and weeks pass, and as you return to life's routine, may you continue to feel comforted by the love and support of family and friends.
Alexia Hern
Friend
May 8, 2020
My prayers and condolences to Mr. Gagan's family. He was a caring and generous man. Rest peacefully Mr. Gagan.
Sheri
Coworker
May 8, 2020
I am so sorry for your loss. My deepest sympathy to this wonderful family. I worked for DirectBuy for 32 years, with 23 of them being for James Gagan. The entire Gagan family was a great part of my life and I will never, ever forget James or Jack. Great men and a wonderful family. Prayers of comfort for all the Gagan Family. ❤
Dorothy Kenjic
Coworker
May 8, 2020
Thinking of the family and wishing them comfort and peace
Henry
May 8, 2020
I am very sorry for you loss. I always enjoyed the moments I was able to spend with Jim. I appreciate the fact that he allowed Innsbrook to become the place I am proud to be a member of.
Daniel Vidimos
Friend
May 7, 2020
Jimmy G, JG, Big Jim, Gagan, the Boss! You were a true one of a kind. Unique like no other with the biggest heart and kindest soul. You touched the lives of so many and shared so many stories, good and, well ... that all of us you left behind will laugh at, shake our heads over, and forever be grateful for. Because of all you have done and all of those you have touched you will truly live forever my friend. Im forever thankful for our many procrastinating chats and feel extremely blessed to have become one of the family. Missy and I love you and know you loved us right back. Rise high and keep an eye out for me. ❤ All my love to your family.
Kelly Muller
Friend
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