James A. Carmack, Jr (“Jim”), died May 25th at his home in Dirigo Pines, his Orono, Maine home since 2015. He was born May 15, 1927 in Washington DC, the son of James A and Mary (Robertson) Carmack.
Jim grew up in Washington DC and Chase City, Virginia. In 1941, at age 14, he received an appointment to Page for the U.S. Senate and was present in the Chamber when Winston Churchill addressed Congress three weeks after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. A framed picture of the address, with Jim standing against the Chamber wall with his fellow pages, was one of his favorite keepsakes.
Following high school, Jim received an appointment to the US Naval Academy, where he majored in Naval Science, from 1945-1949, and upon his graduation, was commissioned as an Ensign on June 3, 1949. During his years at the Naval Academy, he was on the Sailing team, and enjoyed competing as skipper of his boat, “Lively”.
During his summers, Jim served on the USS North Carolina (Battleship) and the USS Boxer (Essex Class Aircraft Carrier). Additionally, he served in Guantanamo Bay, and represented the USNA in a sailing competition from Newport R.I. to Bermuda.
After a courtship that included many special events at the Naval Academy, Jim married Betty Jane (“BJ”) Hamilton, daughter of Navy Capt. and Mrs. James E. Hamilton of Washington DC, on May 5, 1951.
Jim was in active service in the Navy for twelve and a half years, from 1945-1957, serving three of those years in foreign/sea service assignment. Jim initially served onboard ship after graduating the USNA, on the USS Horace Bass (High Speed Transport (LPD)) as a junior officer. This duty took him to China and the Philippines. At the end of his tour, his ship was hastily called back to duty to support the Inchon landings. Upon completion of those tours, Jim returned to land. Jim wanted to be a naval aviator and was selected for flight school. He and BJ moved to Pensacola, where he began flight training as a fighter pilot. Jim subsequently served as a naval aviator, serving tours in carrier based operations. His squadron served in support of the Korean War. Jim excelled in his naval aviation, and was selected for a naval test pilot assignment as his final duty assignment.
With their first-born daughter, Cathy (Cathy Carmack Jones, married to John Raymond Jones, Los Angeles), Jim and BJ moved to Redondo Beach, California in 1955 where Jim began work for Douglas Aircraft Co, later moving to Hughes Aircraft Co. and relocating to La Canada, California in 1958. Jim and BJ welcomed four more children to their precious family, Elisabeth “Lisa” Carmack O’Neil (Denver), James “Jim” Alfred Carmack, married to Terrie Capellino Carmack (Redondo Beach), Mary Marguerite “Meg” Carmack, married to John Percival Symes III (Pasadena) and David Barnes Carmack MD (Col. USAF Retired) married to Adrienne Wallace Carmack MD (Veazie).
In 1968, the family moved to Hillcrest Ave in Pasadena, and enjoyed many wonderful years in that community. During these Pasadena years, Jim perfected his famous “Jim’s Cheeseball” recipe which became a coveted Christmas gift for 100+ family friends each Christmas (all personally delivered by Jim and the team of sons+daughters drivers). The recipe remains a closely guarded family secret to this day.
In the early 1960’s, Jim left the aircraft sales industry and transitioned into finance, earning his broker’s license, and learning his new business as a stockbroker at Mitchum, Jones & Templeton in Los Angeles. After some years there, Jim left to open his own investment counseling business, The Carmack Group, which he ran with a passion until his retirement.
Jim’s joys were BJ and their family, first and foremost, followed by fly-fishing and his beloved dog, Bud. Family time combined with his passion for fly-fishing was formalized when the boys were old enough with the annual four-week “Carmack Fly-Fishing Frolic” each summer in Yellowstone and Montana. Jim also stayed close to his Navy sailing days, teaching all the children to sail, and assembling a family fleet of sabots and kites that were sailed each summer during family vacations on the Newport Beach Peninsula and Balboa Bay Shores.
After 56 years of marriage, BJ passed away in 2007, and in August 2015, Jim moved to Dirigo Pines, in Orono, Maine, to be close to son David, his wife Adrienne Wallace Carmack, and their six children, Anna, Mary, Adrienne, David, Tommy and Allie. After living in California for 60 years, Jim made a happy and easy transition to Maine life (and winters) and New England. He loved living at Dirigo Pines and being part of David and Adrienne’s active family life, enjoying his grandchildren’s John Bapst sporting events, school concerts, and eventual college careers. With David, Jim joined the Penobscot Fly Fishers in Bangor and enjoyed many wonderful summers with the family at their camp in Grand Lake Stream, Maine.
Jim’s five children brought Jim and Bj 18 grandchildren, each one of whom was especially loved. Lisa (Cathy Carmack Jones and John Jones); PJ, Will and Molly (“Lisa” Carmack O’Neil); Jimmie, Jenna, Sam and Olivia (“Jim” and Terrie Carmack); Katie, Sarah and Jack (“Meg” and John Symes); and Anna, Mary, Adrienne, David, Tom, and Allie (David and Adrienne Carmack).
Jim will be remembered by his family and friends for his character, integrity, steadfast loyalty, commitment to family and his relentless optimism. The family gives our profound thanks to the professional and dedicated members of ”Team Jim” from Loving Touch, Dirigo Pines, Karah, St Joe’s and EMMC who met Jim at every step of his journey with a smile, and a caring heart.
Funeral and burial services will be held in California. The family invites relatives and friends locally to celebrate Jim and share conversation and refreshments at Dirigo Pines (Orono, ME), on Wednesday, June 5th 6:00-7:00 pm. Condolences to the family may be expressed at BrookingsSmith.com