Mearkle, James GUILDERLAND James Mearkle passed away peacefully due to causes unrelated to COVID-19, at the grand age of 97 on Tuesday, January 19, 2021, at Teresian House, Guilderland. He was the father of Laura (David) Morrill of Voorheesville, Patricia (Cliff) Joyner of Monument, Colo., Catherine (Geoffrey) Laccetti of Voorheesville, and James (Kathrine) Mearkle of Colonie; grandfather of Allyson (James McDonough), Ross, and Gavin (Melissa Ray) Morrill, Nicole and Matthew Laccetti, Ryan Joyner, and Evan Mearkle; and great-grandfather of Harper, Jackson, and Liam McDonough, and Hailee and Mackenzie Morrill. He is also survived by his sister, Virginia Langford of Windsor Locks, Conn.; and was predeceased by his beloved wife Violet; and brothers, Laurence, Hugh, and Richard (who died as a child). James was born on September 27, 1923, in St. Paul, Minn., and at the age of 10 moved with his family to Suffield, Conn. He spent much of his youth and early adult years exploring the outdoors, hiking, fishing, and sailing. With the encouragement of a local minister and teacher, Jesse Smith, Jim and his brothers helped to blaze trails and set markers for the West Suffield Mountain portion of Connecticut's Metacomet Trail. After graduating from Suffield High School, Jim started college at Yale University under an accelerated program for the Armed Forces. In the summer of 1943, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and attended Special Officers Training School at Camp Lejeune, N.C. before deployment in the South Pacific during World War II. He was stationed at Guam during Operation Magic Carpet and used his skill at logistics to match up individuals and groups of returning service members with available bunks on American-bound vessels. Upon returning home, Jim completed his engineering degree at the University of Connecticut (Storrs) and landed a job with American Bridge, a subsidiary of U.S. Steel. While working at their New York City office, he met Violet Holmes at a dance hall in Brooklyn. They married soon after, and his construction career took them to many places in the United States including Chicago, Pittsburgh, New York City, Houston, and New Orleans, as well as several years in Mexico. Highlighted projects of his career can still be seen at the site of the 1964-1965 World's Fair, including the New York State Pavilion and his work in "designing the orbitals on the Unisphere so it wouldn't fall off its stand and roll through Flushing." He also worked for many years on the World Trade Center project, bringing home bits and pieces like bronze doorknobs from demolished brownstones and old Dutch artifacts found in the pit that became the PATH subway station beneath the towers. This habit irritated his wife to no end as the basement filled up with bits and bobs alongside big piles of blueprint linens and balsa wood models. Jim had a true passion for learning and loved to share his enthusiasm, even though it wasn't always well received by his children at the time. He was blessed with the gifts of a sense of curiosity, a love of learning and exploring the outdoors, as well as encouraging experiments in cooking (no one who tried them could ever forget "breakfast cookies," which contained, among other interesting ingredients, scrambled eggs, bacon, and jelly). None of his children will ever be as good as he was at telling Dad jokes: "I've got a great joke about construction, but I'm still working on it." He enjoyed taking vacations that included visiting engineering marvels such as going to the American side of Niagara Falls the year they turned them off, crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge the year it opened, or sailing the family sloop from Huntington into New York Harbor with the Tall Ships during the U.S. Bicentennial Celebration. We expect his last journey will end at the Pearly Gates, where Violet will be waiting for him to say, "What took you so long?!" In later years, Jim enjoyed spending time with his wife, volunteering for Guilderland Seniors, gardening, home brewing, and trying out different local restaurants and pubs with his daughters on Wednesday night "Dinners with Dad." A private service will be held on Wednesday, January 27, at the DeMarco-Stone Funeral Home, 5216 Western Tpke., Guilderland with burial to follow in Memory Gardens, Colonie. No calling hours are planned at this time. A celebration of his life will occur on a later date. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be sent to Guilderland Senior Services, 141 Bavarian Way, Altamont, NY, 12009.
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Published by Albany Times Union on Jan. 24, 2021.