James McKee Sears was overtaken by brain cancer, passing peacefully December 8, 2013 in Ashland, Ore. Jim was born in Jackson Heights, Long Island, N.Y. December 5, 1926 to Dr. Victor Hugo Sears (18981965) and Mrs. Clela McAllister Sears (abt. 1900-1984). Jim is fondly remembered as father, friend, loving partner, community volunteer, avid learner, tireless walker, fine wine and food fanatic, and kind soul throughout his final decade living in Ashland, Oregon.
Before settling there he traversed many a story as husband, businessman, innovator, intellectual, environmental and social justice activist, jazz lover, inn keeper, and liberal radio-newspaper man. Born into a family of doctors, university professors, and civic leaders residing in Chicago, N.Y. City, and Salt Lake City, Jim was always more interested in taking risks and charting his own path than he was in adopting the Sears family persona. Whether it was as a teenager in the early 1940s sneaking into jazz clubs in Manhattan to be awed by the likes of Sidney Bechet, or as a young University of Utah Business Administration graduate immediately succeeding in 1956 with his first women's apparel store in Vallejo, California, or at the helm of the North Coast News throughout the 1970s and 80s taking on the corporate skullduggery and political corruption of the logging giants in Mendocino County, California, or at the Ashland Food Bank where he faithfully volunteered for his weekly shift right up until his final days, Jim was always rendering his passion into action.
Beyond his long and successful professional and public life, he showed an ever-deepening sensitivity and profound perceptiveness and caring in his human relationships. Through the benefit of age and the fortune of having several long-term loving relationships, his nature continuously grew in openness, generosity, and love.
He is survived and will forever be missed by his three children: James Victor Sears (Shelly Brown) of Silverton, Oregon; Scott McKee Sears (Paula Horrigan) of Trumansburg, N.Y.; and Nancy Sears McLeod (Bill McLeod) of Eagle Point, Oregon. Jim also leaves his loving partner, Raji McLeod of Ashland, Oregon; four grandchildren, Mariah Fogarty-Sears, Jody McLeod, Kelsey Boldman, and Donny Ruble; and as of this date, seven great-grandchildren. Jim lives on!