Obituary of James W Popa
James W Popa
November 16, 1938 – October 30, 2019
Jim took his final flight on October 30, 2019 in Grass Valley, CA. He was 2 weeks shy of his 81st birthday. Jim was born at home on November 16, 1938 in Burnham, IL.
He graduated from TFN High School in Calumet City, IL. Before college & after serving in the Navy, he worked for Republic Steel. He knew he didn’t want to do that for the rest of his life as it was hard, hot, manual labor! He graduated from the University of Illinois of Urbana, IL with a Certification from the Institute of Aviation. At the age of 23 he enlisted in the US Navy and headed to San Diego for boot camp. He served in Rota Spain & was trained in electronics.
Jim wanted to be a pilot since he was 7 years old. He learned to fly planes in college, then went on to become a flight instructor & mechanic working his way up to a Pilot & Captain with both PSA & USAir Airlines. He retired in 1995.
Upon leaving the Navy, he lived in various parts of CA. He moved to Grass Valley in 1980 & loved getting away from the hustle & bustle of San Diego.
After retirement he dredged for gold on his claim, worked at two local high schools repairing and maintaining shop equipment while mentoring students, and also enjoyed traveling.
Jim was a jack of all trades, had a great sense of humor, didn’t take any guff from anyone, & told you what he was thinking at all times. He was very generous to his friends & family members.
Jim was preceded in death by his parents, Sam & Louise Popa, his daughter, Danielle, & his sister Marie. His ashes will be spread at sea by the US Navy along the San Diego Coast.
He is survived by his son, David (Jackie), his sisters, Judy (Steve) Arvada, CO, & June, San Diego; nieces, nephews, and many friends throughout his lifetime.
A Celebration of Life was held in Grass Valley on January 18th.
Donations can be made in his memory with the Salvation Army, Disabled American Veterans, or Public Lands for the People.
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