Jim Mackey (sponsored obituary)
James Harry Mackey died July 7, 2008, at his Nevada City home.
He was born June 13, 1926, to Claude Lee and Emma M. Emery Mackey in
Whittier, California. He graduated from Torrance High School.
After high school, Jim enlisted in the Navy to serve in World War II. Jim
was mainly stationed on Manus Island, which General McArthur used as a
staging area to retake the Philippines. One of Jim’s favorite memories was
attending a Bob Hope USO show and later when some of Bob Hope’s famed USO
show members visited him in the hospital while he was recovering from
Upon returning home from serving his country, Jim was still feeling the
effects of being so ill. It was at this time some friends brought him to
Nevada County for the first time for much-needed rest and relaxation. The
area they chose was Grouse Ridge. Jim truly fell in love with this area and
liked to recall drinking beer and enjoying the beautiful countryside view,
all of which he attributed to helping him regain his health and strength.
After his rest and relaxation in Nevada County, he returned home to Southern
California. One day Jim decided to visit an old friend named George Poh.
George did not answer the door that day, but his baby sister Virginia did,
and Virginia was not quite the baby Jim remembered.The rest is history.
Jim and Virginia were married on April 20 1950. Their marriage lasted 53
years. The early years of their marriage were spent in Southern California.
Jim made a living by being a mechanic and a service station attendant and
then owned his own gas station.
It was during this period that Jim developed a deep love for midget and
sprint car racing. Jim worked on the pit crew for a driver named Volkavitch,
who was killed at the Indy 500. Jim was supposed to be there and would have
if not for the fact his young wife kept him home.
Throughout his entire life Jim maintained a deep passion for auto racing and
would make a yearly trip to Southern California for the special Turkey Night
race held around Thanksgiving. And, of course, you would find him watching
each and every NASCAR race on television and keeping up to date on all the
racing activities on the speed channel.
During the early 1950s Jim still had a longing to return to Nevada County
and make a home here with his wife. In 1952, Jim and Virginia did come to
Nevada City. They built a cabin and Jim tried desperately to make this area
he loved their home. It seemed despite his best efforts, which included
working in a local sawmill and once again being a mechanic and service
station attendant, he was unable to earn enough money to make a living here.
And to compound matters even more, Virginia became ill.
So with no other choice, he took his wife and headed back to Southern
California. Once again Jim found himself a gas station owner and began a
relationship with a new company called U-Haul. This is where Jim really
started to shine, working his way up from the very bottom he showed such
great ingenuity and commitment that soon he would have one of the top two
dealerships in the entire country for many years.
Jim became a good friend of the founder of the U-Haul company. They had many
prosperous years together, and it was only after the death of his friend and
a change in the company ownership that Jim decided he was ready for a
The yearning to return to Nevada City was still very strong, even after all
those years of running a very successful business and raising two sons in
Southern California. So it was in 1974 that Jim and Virginia returned, this
time to stay.
It was at this time Jim started his Real Estate career that he was so
renowned for. He had the same drive and determination for Real Estate that
he had shown in his U-Haul dealership. His reputation for being honest and
fair made his business flourish and just two years after he got his
California Real Estate License he took the state test and became a broker.
He opened his own office; his signature color was the U-Haul orange that
represented a bit of his past and a fresh start. Virginia worked by his side
as an agent and later a broker. Although Jim was quite successful in Real
Estate, he did not forget his community. He shared his many talents and
wisdom and thousands of hours with many organizations.
In 1987, Jim was president of the Nevada City Chamber of Commerce. In 1990,
he was the recipient of the Col. William Lambert Award for Community
Service, presented by the Nevada City Marching Presidents. He was a chamber
director for several years during the 1970s and 1980s. He also was a chamber
volunteer for decades.
He took great pride in the fact he was in charge of the judges reviewing
stand and scoring for all the Fourth of July parades held in Nevada City and
also the judging of the Constitution Day parade. He also served on the
city’s Constitution Commission – the committee charged with organizing the
annual Constitution weekend.
Jim also enjoyed his time at Native Sons meetings and functions and was a
member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Jim was also a dedicated Board of
Realtors association member for over 30 years. Jim sat on MLS, Political
Affairs, Bylaws, Grievance and Finance committees. He served as a BORPAC
Trustee and helped lead the association as a Director, Secretary and Vice
Many believe he was the driving force behind the modernization of the MLS
services. NCAOR acknowledged Jim for his extraordinary dedication by
recognizing him as REALTOR of the Year. In 1982, CAR recognized his
dedicated service by acknowledging him with “Honorary Member for Life”
status. Throughout his life in every-thing he did, Jim always showed
commitment, honesty and loyalty.
Jim will be missed by all those who knew and loved him. He leaves a void
that cannot be filled. He also leaves many wonderful memories and lessons
that he took the time to teach.
Jim is survived by his son and daughter-in-law Doug and Nancy Mackey of
Southern California; son Scott Mackey of Nevada City; and grandsons Nelson,
Michael, Billy and Isaiah. He was preceded in death by daughter Barbara Ann
in 1954, parents Claude Lee and Emma Mackey, brother Claude Lee, and his
beloved wife Virginia Lee Mackey in 2004.
Private graveside services will be held at 10 a.m. Monday at Forest View
Cemetery on Red Dog Road.
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