After a brief illness, James Robert Lahaie (Jim), 58, passed into perpetual peace on Thursday, February 1, 2024, in his hometown of Mesa, Arizona.
Jim was born on July 24, 1965, to Robert and Dorothy (Becker) Lahaie and joined his big sister Victoria Lahaie Corrigan (Vicki) in siblinghood. Known as Jamie in his younger years, Jim was a happy-go-lucky kid with a quick mind and a mischievous grin.
Jim attended Whittier Elementary School, Kino Junior High School, and graduated from Mountain View High School in 1983. A few years later, he enlisted in the United States Air Force. After basic training in Texas and advanced technical school at the former Chanute AFB in Illinois, Jim served his tour of duty at the former Williams AFB in southeast Mesa, providing ground support to their fleet of training aircraft, and occasional security police duty.
Following his honorable discharge at the rank of Staff Sargeant, he continued at the base with the civilian aircraft maintenance company DynCorp until base operations ceased in 1993.
Jim studied at DeVry University, then worked as an electronics technician. His favorite assignment – and the one he took the most pride in – was with the former IPEC/Westech firm, which produced manufacturing equipment for the semiconductor industry. As a field service representative, Jim traveled throughout the U.S. and to South Korea and Japan on extended service and installation projects.
Jim had many skills and abilities. In high school, Jim competed in pole-vaulting and short-distance relay racing. He also studied astronomy, a deep interest he held throughout his life. He was also a fearless and agile skateboarder, cliff diver, and bike rider.
Jim was a gifted electrician, electronics technician, and mechanic; a capable off-roader who adored his vintage Toyota LandCruiser; and a top-rated marksman during his military service.
A great appreciator of classic and alternative/progressive rock, Jim had a deep collection of vinyl and digital music, and treasured his memories of the live performances he’d attended with family and best friends.
Jim became fascinated by the culinary arts, a passion he and his sister shared. He learned the importance of preparation and technique in high school while working as a busser at Kwan’s Sampan Chinese Restaurant, and he adored Asian cuisines. He loved his family’s Friday night dinners at El Charro Mexican Restaurant. He was especially fond of Afghan and East Indian food, creating his own interpretation of many dishes. But he thoroughly enjoyed what he called “typical American fare”… and hoped one day to execute the perfect Beef Wellington.
Jim was a modern-day St Francis of Assisi who cared for countless creatures during his life, nursing many through dire illness. Of them all, none was more dear than his beloved kitty Amber.
In his later years, Jim resided with his mom, eventually becoming her devoted and tireless caregiver.
Jim was a thoughtful, serious man, and when it came to friendships, he chose quality over quantity. Both family and friends will remember his huge heart, his deep loyalty, his generous spirit, his joy and wonder at even commonplace things, and a smile that could light up any room.
Jim is survived by his sister and only sibling, as well as his Arizona first cousins Mike, Larry, Pat, and Barb Lahaie, Joan Beren, and their spouses and children; many Lahaie cousins in northeastern Indiana; his Becker cousins including Kathy, Billy, Bobby, Ward, and Alan in the southeastern U.S., his treasured friends Don Karry, Chris Linseth, Ray Fontaine, and Junius (Jay) Layton; and his sweet kitties Muffin and CowCat, now in the care of their aunt Vicki. He was preceded in death by his parents, his beloved husky Lucy, and many Lahaie felines including Pansy, Brindle, Whiskers, Bo, and Amber.
Vicki extends her deep gratitude to the ER and ICU staff at Banner Gateway Medical Center, who cared for Jim (and for her) like family throughout Jim’s final 24 hours.
Following a private burial with military honors, a memorial service will be held at 11:30 am Tuesday February 13, 2024 at Bunker’s Garden Chapel, 33 North Centennial Way Mesa, AZ 85201.
Lunch nearby will follow, with details to be provided at the service.
In lieu of flowers or food gifts, donations in Jim’s memory may be made to:
The Jacques Pepin Foundation for Culinary Education
The Planetary Society (co-founded by Carl Sagan for the advancement of space exploration)
Donation notifications should be directed to Vicki via email or U.S. mail.