James Louis McAfee of Chilili, New Mexico passed away peacefully in his sleep on Wednesday, March 23, 2022, just 13 days after his 83rd birthday.
James is preceded in death by his mother Margarita Gurule Gonzales y McAfee; father John Archie McAfee; two sisters: Stella Little, Odelia Gonzales; five brothers: Archie, Joseph, Charlie, and unnamed twins.
James is survived by his wife of 61 years, Maria Ramona Rosa McAfee; two sons and their spouses: James and Gloria McAfee, John and Rita McAfee; two daughters and their spouses: Gaynelle and Ben Madrid, Alison and Phillip Macias; and sister Lisa Apodaca. James was a proud grandfather of 16 grandchildren, 25 great-grandchildren, and uncle to numerous nieces and nephews.
James was born March 10, 1939 in Torreon, New Mexico and was named by his godparents Frank and Caroline Dow. His mother called him Jimmy.
He lived in Chilili for a couple of summers and winters, then moved to Albuquerque when he was 8 years old.
James loved watching baseball at Tingley Field. He was once caught sitting on a 7ft fence watching a baseball game. The gentleman who caught him didn’t get mad but instead, gave him a free membership to see every game.
James moved to Southern California when he was sixteen, where he lived with his aunt. He worked picking oranges and lemons, which he enjoyed because the more fruit he picked, the more money he made. He then left for Merced, California where he attended High School and lived with his sister Stella. Soon Stella’s husband was transferred to England with the Air Force, and though James was invited to go along he declined as he was anxious to head back to New Mexico. Before leaving, he purchased a 1953 Oldsmobile that was red and white, inside and out. He loved taking it out on the interstate.
James met his wife Ramona when he was 13 years old and she was 9. They got married when Ramona was 17. They had four children, two sons and two daughters. He loved fishing and going on camping trips with his family until his sons joined the military.
In 2013, James wrote to one of his granddaughters - “One of the happiest times of my life was when I married your grandma. Thanks to God that we are still together… She has stuck by me through thick and thin. She has been my rock. She never gave up on me, for which I am very grateful.”
In 1960 James worked in the Bell Trading Post Factory, later known as Sunbell Corp. James was in charge of 3 departments and adored his time there. He referred to his co-workers as a happy family and even after he left the company, he continued to make jewelry for the remainder of his life.
In 1961 James voted for the first time. He voted for John F. Kennedy, the first Irish Catholic president, and was proud of his presidency.
After starting a family in Albuquerque, James moved back to Chilili where he remained with his wife for the rest of his life. He built an A-Frame home there that he was proud of and filled it with treasures he came across along the way. He adored the great outdoors and the peaceful hum of the trees. James was very much a quiet man at times, but he paid attention to everything. To those close with him he shared history, jokes, and tales of his life. He loved picking wildflowers, searching for rocks, woodworking, jewelry making, and crafting eclectic pieces. He could fix almost anything in his own way and was incredibly clever.
He loved to read and once read every western book in his local library that he had to choose to start a new genre or find a new library. He used to keep lists of all the books he read so he wouldn’t read them twice, but his list got so long he came up with a new plan. He wrote his initials on the back of the book. Then in his later years, he marked the books with a single dot.
Cutting wood in the late summer was a favorite pastime since he was 8 years old. He continued this tradition well into the end of his life. He knew every tree, bird, and plant he came across.
He once wrote, “I figure that living here in the mountains is almost like going camping every day.” Which he enjoyed immensely. His choice to live in the mountains influenced his whole family and incredible memories have been made among the dirt and trees. When it would rain, James would yell out “What are the trees saying?” And he would cheerfully answer himself “yay!!”
When James was 74 years old, he wrote, “ I would say that life has been good. I think that I accomplished more than I expected. I’ve had my ups and downs like everyone else. I believe that I received a lot of Divine assistance over the years cause I’ve done a lot of praying. So, I can’t complain.”
James' Life Celebration will begin with a Mass on Sunday, April 24, 2022 at 12:30 pm at the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church located at 9502 4th Street NW, 87114. A Service will be held on Tuesday, April 26, 2022 at 11:00 am at Calvary Church located at 4001Osuna Rd NE, 87109. Reception will follow at Calvary Church.