American Patriotic 10

James R. McCaffery

October 18, 1928 ~ August 22, 2022 (age 93)


South Bend native James (Jim) Robert McCaffery passed away peacefully at Memorial Hospital on August 22, 2022, following a brief illness. He was ninety-three. Jim will be greatly missed by family and friends who were fortunate to know his calm, genial presence and quiet Irish humor.   

Born October 18, 1928, Jim was the youngest of Joseph James (“JJ”) and Loretta (Poulin) McCaffery’s four children. He is preceded in death by his brother, Joseph J. Jr., and sisters, Mary Patrice (Pat) Weaver Robertson and Kathleen Ward. He leaves behind four children, James, Jr. (Carol) of South Bend, Molly (William) Robertson of Wilton, CT, Megan (Jonathan) Catherwood of Warrenton, VA, and Haley (Jeffrey) Deitchley of South Bend; eleven grandchildren; and Lea Spencer, the spark of his life and cherished companion for nearly four decades.

A graduate of South Bend’s Madison and St. Joseph Grade Schools and Central High School, Jim went on to complete a business degree at Purdue University (1951). Being a “Fiji” (Phi Gamma Delta) brought lifelong friendships and memories. After college, Jim served with the US Army overseas in the Korean War. 

In 1963, when his father died, Jim assumed leadership of The McCaffery Company. He was president of the local wholesale electrical supplies and appliance distributorship until the company was sold in the early nineteen eighties. Jim then pursued smaller business opportunities, including a sign company with his son, Jimmy. 

Summers in Jim’s youth were spent at his family’s cottage on Diamond Lake, where he learned to fish and sail. He was a talented skipper who taught sailing through the Diamond Lake Yacht Club and raced at every opportunity. In 1948 he won the Great Lakes Sailing Championship regatta (Snipe Class). His devoted nephew Jim Ward and family continue to reside at the lake property, where generations of McCafferys still love to gather. 

A golf enthusiast, Jim was proud to have earned a Hole-in-One green jacket at The South Bend Country Club, where he was a member for more than sixty-five years. In his thirties, he began to paint and sculpt wire and was a practicing abstract expressionist well into his nineties. His energetic and boldly colored canvases are prominent in his children’s and grandchildren’s homes, apartments, and dorm rooms. Jim was involved in the South Bend art community and supported the work of local artists. 

A past-president of the board of the South Bend Art Center, Jim also served the community as a board member of the Better Business Bureau, Urban League, United Way, Summit Club, and South Bend Country Club. 

Jim lived his final years with daughter, Haley, and her family. When not painting in the home studio they created for him, he enjoyed the steady supply of home-baked banana bread, family meals, and chatter about the day’s news and sports (Boiler Up!). 

The family is grateful to Wellbrooke, The Veterans Administration, and all medical caretakers, especially Jim’s primary care physician, Kaitlin VanderKolk, M.D.  A Catholic Mass and Celebration of Life will be held at a later date. Arrangements are in the care of Goethals and Wells Funeral Home. 

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of James R. McCaffery, please visit our floral store.

Memorial Tree
A Memorial Tree was planted for James

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