American Veteran 01

James Patillo

August 31, 1938 ~ January 6, 2024 (age 85) 85 Years Old
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James Patillo Obituary

Our beloved, James Patillo, age 85 of Elizabeth City, NC, departed from this life on Saturday, January 6, 2024. 

A Funeral Mass will be held on Saturday, January 27, 2024, at 12:00 noon at St. Katharine Drexel Catholic Church, Maple, NC. A viewing will be held one hour prior to the service. Interment will follow in Dove's Landing Cemetery. 

If the definition of a good life is a life well lived, then James Patillo lived a great life, finding meaning and purpose in things large and small, and surrounding himself with family and a bevy of longstanding friends. James, also known by Jim, Jimmie, and Mr. Patillo, was born in New York to Leola Adrian Colbert and James E Patillo. He had 2 sisters: one by blood, Wilma Browne, who preceded him in death, and one by love and bond, Mildred Arnold King. Jim married Barbara Jean Walker Patillo August 9, 1967. He became father to Terri (Watson) and Darryl (Mullen) then went on to have 2 daughters, Jaime (Patillo) and Kristina (Patillo).

Jim served with the Army Security Agency (ASA) as a Counter Measure Search Specialist and Radio Operator. After an honorable discharge, Jim hit the road in a brand new maroon and white Chevrolet Impala and and set off to see the US and to meet his “country” cousins in Arkansas. The love of the open road never left and he had no qualms about hopping in his car and driving hundreds of miles to visit loved ones. There were frequent trips to Gurdon, Ak to visit relatives in the “White House”, Plant City and Aurbundale to visit his mother, aunts, and cousins, New Orleans for the Watson’s famous Mother’s Day Crawfish boil, among many others. He also traveled internationally with his daughters: France, Mexico, Greece, Thailand, Canada, Germany , Chile, and Rome . Long before he travelled the world, Jim brought the world to his family in the form of music (he loved Roy Orbison, Willie Nelson, classical music and classic Christmas carols), theater, and food ranging from Cubans in Florida, BBQ in Texas, soul food in Savannah, Uglesich’s in New Orleans for the *best* seafood po-boy, to authentic Chinese food in Flushing, NY or San Francisco. He delighted in a crusty loaf of bread, a “dirty frank”, oatmeal raisin cookies, red wine, black coffee, and a cold one (that’s beer in case you didn’t know). Jim valued education and maintaining an awareness of cultural, societal, and political events. He read multiple newspapers daily, kept up with CSPAN, and NPR. He could talk for hours on almost any issue with insight, knowledge, and critical thinking, with some opinion sprinkled in.

Jim graduated from Polk Junior College in 1970, and from Florida Technological University (now University of Central Florida) in 1972. The majority of his career was spent at the Department of Housing and Urban development where he advanced to the Director of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. Jim exemplified the advice to just keep moving. And move he did. He was up before the sun to run miles before heading to work and continued even after he retired. He competed in road races all over the United States, including the New York and Boston Marathons. He excelled at racquetball and played in many tournaments, routinely beating people half his age.

Jim always had a liveliness in his step. He brought the energy into any room and never missed a thing. His laughter was big and loud, the same as the way he loved. He found pleasure in the sublime as well as in the simple joys of exploring a grocery store (Every. Single. Aisle.), spending hours gardening or opening a bottle of red wine. He could recite the lines to old school black and white westerns, was a Trekkie, and saw every Star Wars movie. No amount of words will every adequately convey the essence of Jim as his personality was too big to be contained on a page. His love is an indelible imprint on our hearts. His legacy will be the light that beckons us out of the darkness and urges us to live as he did— completely. In addition to his children, Jim is survived by his son-in-law James Sr. (Watson), 3 grandchildren Terrell (Watson), James Jr. (Watson), Darryl Jr. (Mullen), and Jordan (Mullen) and an abundance of cousins. James Patillo August 31, 1938 - January 6, 2024

Services of Comfort by Mitchell Funeral Care and Cremations. 

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Earthly Viewing
January 27, 2024

11:00 AM to 12:00 PM
St. Katharine Drexel Catholic Church
154 Maple Road
Maple, NC 27956

Funeral Mass
January 27, 2024

12:00 PM
St. Katharine Drexel Catholic Church
154 Maple Road
Maple, NC 27956


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