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In Memoriam:
James Rousch (1924–2021)

by LuAnn Benton




James Rousch at the Village Silversmiths in 2010

James at the Village Silversmiths, in 2010.


James Rousch in his later years

James in his later years.



James Rousch was born in Strasburg, Missouri in 1924 and lived there throughout his younger years and the Great Depression. His family lost everything they had and decided to join an uncle who was living in Chula Vista. James was 11 years old at the time. He attended Sweetwater High School, in National City, and became an Eagle Scout and a Charter Member of Sweetwater Troop 66. All of his children and grandchildren have been involved in scouting.


At the age of 16, he signed on as an apprentice at the North Island Naval Air Station. Once the war started, he joined the Army Air Corps and became a bombardier in World War II. After the war he left the Army Air Corp and went back to work at the North Island Naval Air Station, where he continued his career.


James met and married his wife, Julia. They had five children. They were married for 62 years, until Julia died in 2011. His children gave him 10 grandchildren and three great grandchildren. He and Julia traveled together throughout their lives, including many fishing excursions. James was a fisherman at heart, especially salmon fishing. During one of his fishing trips, a hook caught his right eye, which resulted in losing his sight in that eye.


In 1970, while at North Island Naval Air Station, James started the North Island Mineral & Gem Society, making his garage into a "club shop" for working on their stones. He would visit San Diego Mineral & Gem Society meetings, then go back to his club and give the same talk to the members there.


One of James's daughters, Nancy, picked up silversmithing in the mid 1970s, and he eventually joined her in learning the craft. He retired from North Island, after 35 to 40 years (around 1980) and became a member of the Southwestern Art Gallery in Studio 21 in Spanish Village. At this point, he was coaxed into joining SDMG as a member and became known as "Jim" around the Society. He eventually started working for Bonnie on Mondays and Tuesdays in the Village Silversmiths and while there sold his jewelry. Bonnie said he was a great man. He had the quality about him that young people don't have today. He was respectful and a good, honest person. He worked there over 15 years, retiring two years ago due to hearing and driving issues.


In November 2019, Jim was diagnosed with Merkel Cell Carcinoma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer most often diagnosed in older people. By September 2020 it had metastasized to his liver and eventually to his bones. Jim was using a walker, and he was doing fine until Christmas day 2020, when he fell ill and had to have 24-hour care until his death, on January 5, 2021. Fortunately, according to his daughter Nancy, it was essentially quick and he felt no pain. Jim was 96 years young.


Rest in peace, Jim, once again side by side with Julia!










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