June 1, 1931 – February 1, 2019
James J. Avila passed away on February 1, 2019 in Fresno, CA at the age of 87. James was born in Hanford on June 1, 1931 as the youngest son to Tome and Elizabeth Avila.
He is survived by his beloved wife of 62 years, Shirley, sister-in-law, Mary J. Avila, nieces and nephews: Tom (Dorothy) Avila, Jeanne (Owen) Schales, Mark (Cheryl) Avila, Liz (Shane) Brown, Cathy Vierra, Dannielle Crow, and their children. Cousins: Mardell (Lee) Hart, Danette (Mike) Bettencourt, Jesslyn (Rocky) Borrecco and their families.
He was predeceased by his brother, Thomas C. Avila in 2007, and his stepbrother, Manuel Vierra.
James graduated from Hardwick Elementary School, then Laton High School in 1950. He was a member of the California National Guard for one year, before entering the U.S. Navy. He was a veteran of the Korean War, having served in the U.S. Navy from 1952 to 1955. He was assigned to the destroyer U.S.S. Buck, DD761, as an engineman, second class. He was honorably discharged after four years of service; receiving the Korean Presidential Unit Citation, Korean Service medal (three stars), Good Conduct United Nations Service Medal, and National Defense Service Medal. He was very proud of the U.S. Navy; continuing to attend several Navy reunions.
When returning home, he married the love of his life, Shirley Silva on April 8, 1956, making their home on their farm in Hardwick. He farmed in partnership with his Father, until James and Shirley began to farm on their own. They enjoyed many motor home trips with family and friends; spending time in their coastal home in Morro Bay; Cruises and trips with 56' T-Bird Club and hosting an annual Easter celebration.
James was also a Past Supreme President of the I.D.E.S. Portuguese Lodge in 1973-74, traveling to all the councils in California; also a member of PFSA, LUSO-American, APUMEC, and SES. He also belonged to the Hanford Fraternal Hall Association and Kings County Farm Bureau.
James was a man of devout faith, belonging to Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church all of his life; and obtained his Fourth Degree with the Knights of Columbus.
James will be missed by his beloved wife Shirley, his family and friends.
All services will be held at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, 20855 S. Fatima Ave in Laton. Visitation will be on Thursday, February 7, 2019 beginning at 5pm with recitation of the Rosary at 6:30pm. Mass of Christian burial will be on Friday, February 8th at 10am. Burial following at Calvary Cemetery, Hanford.
Memorials may be made to St. Jude Research Hospital, or a favorite charity. Arrangements entrusted to Whitehurst McNamara Funeral Home, Hanford.