James Willard Young was born at home in Primera, Texas to Rex Rosser Young and Elva Mae Hevron Young. He was the second of 4 children. Growing up on the farm, some of his earliest memories was learning to ride a bareback horse at age 5 and learning to drive a FH12 Farmall tractor at the age 7 with his father sitting behind him, until one day, he looked behind and his dad was standing behind him, having quietly slipped off the back seat. When he was 12, he built his first building. His father gave him a saw and some wood and told him to go build an outhouse. He went to school in a one room school house in Primera finishing the 8th grade, then entering the 9th grade at Harlingen High School. He played 6 man football with a leather helmet and joined the FFA where he received a national award with a monetary prize.
While in high school, his older sister, Alta Gene, was working at an insurance office and told her brother about the cute little Yankee girl working with her. He went by to meet Eleanor Teears. He later asked his sister what the girl’s name was. She told him to remember President Roosevelt’s wife, Eleanor. He called her house and stuttered, “Is Theodore there?” She knew who it was and she knew who he wanted, so she answered, “No, but I think you might be wanting to talk to me, Eleanor.” And so, a 70+ year love relationship began. It was a true love story that never ended. Upon graduating, knowing he would be drafted for the Korean Conflict, he joined the Navy so he could see the world. He was an MP and through a series of interesting events, became the ship barber. Before he shipped out, he proposed and she said, “Yes!” He the left summer of 1951, returning at Christmas to wed his bride on December 26. After a weeklong honeymoon, she followed him out to Oakland, California to be near him. He served his country for 4 years, making 10 trips from San Francisco to Japan and back.
In December of 1954, 2 weeks after the birth of their first daughter, Virginia in Oakland, they moved to Commerce Texas to start their lives as cotton farmers. After 2 years, they moved to Corpus Christi. There he became a union carpenter’s journeyman, working his way up in that field to become a construction superintendent, first for Casey & Glass, then Marshall Company where he ended his career. At the end of his career, he was one of the most highly respected men in his field, receiving a number of awards.
They lived in Corpus Christi for 40 years. He led his family to become faithful members of South Bluff United Methodist Church. The Chapel Sunday School Class was a very important part of his life, forming life-long friendships. Free time was spent in his backyard garden, out at the beach fishing, and on the softball field. All of his children learned how to use a hammer and tools from an early age. He became pitcher and captain of the church softball team, becoming the “old man” of the team at age 35, as most of the players were teenagers and young men in their 20’s. In 1967, the team went to the state championship in Ft. Worth, working their way up through the loser’s bracket. They not only captured the title, but as he pitched all of the games, he was named MVP. At age 54, his good friend Burton Cooper guided him through obtaining his private pilot’s license.
Upon retiring, he and Eleanor moved to their dream home they built outside of Reagan Wells at Frio Cielo Ranch. Here he lived a full life of working on their home, gardening, feeding the deer, joining the Reagan Wells VFD, volunteering at the Aviation Museum at Garner Field and serving on the board of the Medina County Electric Coop. At age 70, he became certified as a swift water rescue volunteer after 3 grueling days of training. They became loyal members of First United Methodist Church of Uvalde, then joining Reagan Wells Baptist Church. His last big building project was completed when he was 87, building a large tree house for his grandchildren and great grandchildren to enjoy.
He was known as J.W., JDub or Willard and became a highly respected member of the community. Along with other men and women, he volunteered untold hours helping to improve the Frio Cielo Ranch, working on the roads, setting up an improved water system and serving on the HOA board.
He leaves behind Eleanor, his beloved wife of 69 ½ years, Virginia Greer and her husband Kenneth, Kathy Ford and her husband, John, Alice Wiley and her husband, Bill, Rex Young and his wife Jodi. Grandchildren, Shannon (Greer) and Steven DeBeus, Kirk and Elaine Greer, great grandchildren Elliot and Dorian, Joshua and Jenna Ford, great grandchildren, Landon and Lauchlin, Michelle (Greer) and James LaMantia, Kelli (Ford) and Arthur Gonzalez, Mollie Condie and great grandchildren Curtis and Zoe Jane, Patty and Kario Sellars and greatgrandchildren, Andrew, Santiago, Candace and Cassie, Taylor and Tiffany Young, great grandchildren, Isaiah, Miriam, Eli, Grace and Jules, Tanner Young, Emilio and Juanita Rinche, Jim and Mary Moss, along with many other beloved relatives and friends. He is preceded in death by his parents and three siblings, Alta Gene Young Dube, Troy Young and Otis Young.
A memorial service will be held at Reagan Wells Baptist Church on Monday, May 10 at 11 AM.
In lieu of flowers, please donate to Reagan Wells Volunteer Fire Department, 4676 Ranch Road 1051, Uvalde, TX 78801.