Cover photo for James Mackill's Obituary
James Mackill Profile Photo
1923 James 2015

James Mackill

December 15, 1923 — February 8, 2015

James Richard Mackill, known to friends and family as Jim, passed away on Sunday the 8th of February 2015 at the Carlton Plaza in Davis, California. He had celebrated his 91st birthday at the end of last year. He was born and raised in Evanston, Illinois. His parents were William and Gertrude Mackill, immigrants from Scotland. He served in the Navy from 1942 to 1946. He took a liking to the port city of San Diego on a visit there where he would later live. After serving in the Navy, he attended Northwestern University in Chicago where he earned a bachelor's degree in Industrial Engineering. A friend introduced him to Geraldine Busch and they fell in love. After they were married, they moved out to San Diego where he got a job as an industrial engineer at General Dynamics Convair. He worked for Convair until his retirement in 1982. He endeared himself to his colleagues (and everyone else) with his genial manner and great sense of humor. He was a devoted friend to many and was beloved by relatives and in-laws both close and distant. When he told a joke, he would often be the one laughing the hardest and it was almost impossible not to laugh with him, even if the joke wasn't that funny. He was wise, loyal, devoted, sincere, gregarious, firmly egalitarian and extremely easy to get along with.

He and Gerry loved to go dancing and were for years members of the Lancers dance club. Of three children he was the only boy, and he had learned to dance when his sisters would use him as their practice dance partner. He was known in his early years for dancing the highland fling in his kilts. He loved music and his singing talents would prove useful in later years when he would go to sing at homes for the elderly with a partner pianist and in the church choir. Jim and Gerry had two boys: David, born in 1954, followed by John two years later. He loved his holidays and took his family on many vacations to various parts of the country: mountains, deserts, and national parks. He and Gerry later bought a trailer and would take the boys to camp at the State beach or in the Anza-Borrego desert. He loved the outdoors. During the years after Gerry developed Parkinson's disease, James supported her and stood by her in this difficult time. Gerry passed away in 1995 and afterwards James found a new love in Rita Bell. They lived together in La Jolla and later in Carlsbad until his condition forced a move up to Davis, California where son David and daughter-in-law Alita could take better care of him. First he lived at St. John's Retirement Village in Woodland but later he moved to Carlton Plaza in Davis to be closer to family. There he endeared himself to many of the residents and staff.

He is survived by sons David and John of whom he was always immensely proud, though they were often scattered to far corners of the earth as the pathways of their lives drew them. As his sons took up residence in various foreign locales, it gave him the perfect excuse to see the world and he visited them at one time or another in the Philippines, India, Tonga, New Zealand, and Macau. David and wife Alita now live in Davis, and John and wife Karin live in Gisborne, New Zealand. He is also survived by grandchildren David, Kenji, and Robert (of New Zealand) and Adrian and Bianca (of New York City).

He chose, as his wife Gerry had chosen before him, to be cremated and to have his ashes scattered at sea. A memorial service will be held in Davis on February 21.

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