Captain James Edwin Richards
August, 10, 1942 – November, 20, 2020
Jim was born in Oakland, California, to Doris & Webb Richards. He graduated from San Leandro High School in 1960 and later attended the California Maritime Academy. Jim graduated in 1963, with a Bachelors of Science degree in Nautical Science and a Federal License: Third Mate. Following graduation, Jim bounced around with shipping companies until he landed with Pacific Coast Transport, an arm of Union Oil, where he eventually became Captain of the Avila.
Throughout his life, Jim always identified himself as a Ships Master and was a long-time member of the Council of American Master Mariners. As is the case with generations of sailors before him, Jim enjoyed telling captivating stories about his shipmates and their adventures. Many of those stories involved Captains Tillman and Kosterval, as both men played big roles in his life; first as mentors and then as life-long friends.
In 1981 Jim was accepted into the Columbia River Bar Pilots Association, in Astoria, Oregon and began training during the worst part of the year, where Dramamine became his best friend. On his first trip out on the P.V. Peacock, the German designed rescue boat, discovered that ice cream and rough seas were a bad mix. Jim would later lament with his fellow pilots about his terrible luck at drawing jobs, as they repeatedly enjoyed working day shifts while he was often heading out at 2 am in stormy weather.
During his tenure with the Bar Pilots, Jim served as Secretary and later as President and was active in evaluating and replacing transportation equipment to ensure safety and efficiency of boarding ships at sea. As a Pilot, Jim represented the organization and lobbied along with Pacific NW Waterways Association in Washington D.C. to maintain and improve the Columbia River river channels.
In 1983 Jim married Sharon in her home town of Reno, Nevada. They combined families and finally found love and companionship they both were seeking. Both were able to take time off from work and family responsibilities to travel, but mostly they just had fun being together. Jim was pleased that he had the ability to donate to various community charities, his favorite being Habitat for Humanity, as home and family stability was extremely important to him. He also enjoyed volunteering at the Columbia Maritime Museum, where he served on their board of Trustees.
Following his retirement, Jim split his time between his favorite places in Sisters, OR and Kapaa, HI. While in Oregon, Jim continued to work towards his pilot's license, with the hope that one day he could fly between both his homes. He was an avid reader, and always had a book in his hand. He especially loved reading about US history and WWII, and was an amateur Churchill historian. He had a long time passion for vintage cars. When he was 12 years old, he saw a Jaguar and thought, “Wow, what a car!” He was later able to purchase a Vintage 1957 Jaguar Roadster, which was his pride & joy, often visiting the garage to make sure it wasn't a dream. Jim was bigger than life... he was generous, loving, and kind and his laugh could fill a concert hall. It was often said of Jim that he was “one of the good ones.”
Jim is survived by his loving wife of 37 years, Sharon, brother Dick, children Susan, Lisa, Paige, Mark, grandchildren Kennady, Callan, Aidan, and great granddaughter Emery Sue.
Family requests donations in his name be given to the
Columbia River Maritime Museum or the California Maritime Academy.
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