James (Jim) Dofph Pitts III passed away Sunday, September 28, 2014 at his farm in Amherst, Massachusetts. He was 72. Born August 4, 1942 in Goldsboro, North Carolina, Jim graduated from high school in Atlanta and joined the U.S. Air Force in 1960, where he served as a radar engineer in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Jim left the Air Force and moved to Cambridge in 1964, where he met his future wife, Pennington (Penny) Couden. They married in 1969. Jim supported Shirley Chisholm in her 1972 bid for the presidency and spoke against the death penalty at the Democratic National Convention that same year. He supported progressive politics throughout his life, including the 1995 Million Man March on Washington and the 2008 presidential candidacy of Barack Obama. He traveled to the Soviet Union, South Africa, and Nicaragua, twice as the chaperon of youth groups. In 1964, Jim embarked on a 29-year career with the Digital Equipment Corporation of Maynard, working his way up from programmer to senior manager. He and Penny raised five children, two of whom they adopted (Jay, Usha, David, Christina, and Darden). The couple participated in the Acton Congregational Church, helped found the Open Door community theater, raised chickens and goats, and actively took part in their community of Acton, Massachusetts. Jim retired from Digital in 1993 and moved to Amherst with Penny to found Delta Organic Farm. Jim became a fixture of the local farmers market and wider community. He enjoyed playing baseball with the over 30 league and dancing. Later in life, Jim formed a second family with his wife Natalya Goncharova (married in 2009), and sixth child, Charles. Ever a creative thinker and compelling speaker, Jims principled views on society and politics earned him an audience among people of all ages and from all walks of life. For many of us, he was at once a leader, father, politician, and teacher. He died suddenly but peacefully, just as he wanted. Jim leaves five children, seven grandchildren and one great grandson. We invite all to honor him at Goodwin Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church at 41 Woodside Drive in Amherst on October 18 at 2:00 p.m., followed by an open house at 4:00 on Delta Farm at 352 Hadley Road.
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Published in The Acton Beacon from Oct. 14 to Oct. 21, 2014.