James William Brawley (Jim) 89, servant of God, devoted parishioner of St. Andrew's Roman Catholic Church, and longtime resident of Westwood, went to join his beloved wife Evelyn (McClain) in the presence of the Lord on Friday, August 8, 2014. Jim was born in Rockaway Beach, Queens, New York on June 14, 1925, to James and Catherine (Gray) Brawley. There he rode the waves and learned his love of the sea until the Depression forced the family move to Amsterdam Avenue, Manhattan in 1934. At Ascension School, Jim met best friend Jim McClain and his sister Evelyn, one of the best stickball players on the block. It was also at...
James William Brawley (Jim) 89, servant of God, devoted parishioner of St. Andrew's Roman Catholic Church, and longtime resident of Westwood, went to join his beloved wife Evelyn (McClain) in the presence of the Lord on Friday, August 8, 2014.
Jim was born in Rockaway Beach, Queens, New York on June 14, 1925, to James and Catherine (Gray) Brawley. There he rode the waves and learned his love of the sea until the Depression forced the family move to Amsterdam Avenue, Manhattan in 1934. At Ascension School, Jim met best friend Jim McClain and his sister Evelyn, one of the best stickball players on the block. It was also at Ascension Church in the years before WWII that Jim's lifelong love of and devotion to the Church developed through his daily altar boy service. Upon graduation from Holy Name High School in 1943, Jim joined the US Maritime Service on Hoffmann Island after being turned down by the US Navy for health reasons. Shortly thereafter, Jim transferred to the newly formed US Army Transportation Corps, and after officer training in St. Petersburg and New Orleans, he shipped off to the Pacific to serve as ship's engineer, moving cargo between the Philippines, Okinawa, and Papua, New Guinea, on small tugs and freighters until 1946.
After the war, Jim enrolled in City College of New York to study Civil Engineering. But once again, hardship intervened when he chose to go to work to support his parents and sister. On May 21, 1949, Jim married his childhood sweetheart Evelyn and embarked on many years as devoted husband, father, uncle, brother, mentor, and friend to many. The move to Westwood in 1958 and the arrival of 14 children meant years of commuting to Manhattan where Jim worked as bookkeeper and customer service representative for the General Cigar Company. In 1967, he took over the family business from his brother-in-law Hans Niels, a large service station in Hartsdale, NY, and built it into his own. Several of his children started their own working lives there. Always mindful of giving excellent service to customers, Jim was a tough boss.
Weekends were for church, friends, and family. From the first, Jim was a member of the Holy Name Society and the Knights of Columbus, close knit men of faith who served the Church, the community and who helped each other out with home projects and family crises. With Evelyn's large extended family, there were business-as-usual family gatherings many Sundays at someone's house with lots of music and singing. Jim was known for leading everyone through "My Darling Clementine", a family tradition that continued throughout his life. Jim was never at a loss entertaining his children with picnics at the local parks, visits to local museums, historical sites, and cemeteries, and of course the yearly two-week vacation to a house on a lake, all driving accompanied by singing, counting games, map training, and arithmetic quizzes.
In 1967, Jim and Evelyn joined Cursillo ("little course in Christianity") and strove to define their lives and that of their family by its precepts. Jim's engagement with fellow Cursillistas continued throughout his life, a core group of lifelong good friends based on shared faith and commitment. Marriage Encounter further deepened Jim and Evelyn's spirituality and enriched their life as a couple, helping them to make it through the personal tragedies that afflict everyone's temporal life. After several health crises and the passing of his daughter Jennifer in 1988, Jim retired and started on the vocation for which he is truly known – service to the poor. He became the conduit for solutions in response to need that he had experienced himself and which he saw growing in Pascack Valley: food, used clothing and furniture collection and distribution, as well as housing, education, and legal assistance for anyone who asked. Jim became "Mr. Jimmy", offering a helping hand in the name of God to thousands of proteges and friends near and far.
This beloved and revered man is survived by five sons, Robert (Debbi) of Emerson, Stephen (Maureen) of River Vale, Thomas of Westwood, Christopher (Bonnie Patania) of West Milford, Matthew (Debra Krzastek) of Pearl River, and seven daughters, Pamela (Robert) Trottier of Williamstown, Vermont, Frances Losonsky (Liam Williams) of Andover, NJ, Catherine Brawley of Asheville, NC, Ann Greve of Myrtle Beach, SC, Veronica (Patrick) Burman of Rollsville, NC, Loretta (Mark) O'Meara of Fairfax, Va, and Mary Fuat of Colchester, NY. In addition to his wife Evelyn and his parents, Jim was predeceased by his dear children Jennifer Grace and Richard Lawrence. Jim's grandchildren were graced with knowing his open heart and unconditional love. They are: Brian (Beverly) Brawley, Mark Brawley, David (Courtney) Brawley, Mark and Daniel, and Wendi Heffernan, Patrick (Amanda) O'Meara, Meghan and Michael O'Meara, Tammy and Kristi Black, Ronald, Jennifer, and Shannon Greve, Broc (Jenn) Burman, McKenzie (Anthony) Zinani, Emily Greve, Amanda Losonsky, Mollie Brawley, Haley and Kaitlin Trottier, and his great-grandchildren: Jared, Connor, Tyler, Kira, Ruth Ann, Capri, Vera, Maeve and Rowan. Jim is survived also by his sister Bernadette Powers of Branford, CT, his brother-in-law Edward McClain of New Port Richey, FL, and sister-in-law Eileen (O'Grady) McClain, as well as numerous nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by sisters Kathleen Brawley and Susan Neils McKusker, and brother William Brawley.
Relatives and friends are invited to celebrate Jim's life at a wake on Monday and Tuesday, August 11th and 12th at St. Andrew R.C. Church, Westwood, NJ from 2-4PM and 7-9PM. The Funeral Mass celebrating Jim's life and faith will be held at St. Andrew's R.C. Church on Wednesday, August 13th at 10:30AM.
Burial will follow at Westwood Cemetery.
Memorial contributions may be made in the name of James W. Brawley to St. Andrew's Human Concerns, St. Andrew Church, 124 Washington Avenue, Westwood, NJ 07675.