James McLeod
James McLeod

Obituary of James Stewart McLeod

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James Stewart McLeod died at his home on April 16, 2020 at the age of 94 of natural causes. He was born January 7, 1926 in Bellingham, Washington. His parents, Neil J.D. McLeod and Dorothy (Gooch) McLeod, were also Bellingham natives. The family purchased a farm on Wiser Lake Road in Lynden when he was in elementary school where they raised poultry and dairy cows. He graduated from Meridian High School. With the war in process, he taught himself Morse code so he could apply to the Army Signal Corp when he joined up, which was the beginning of an exciting, globetrotting career in communications technology. Jim was stationed in Hawaii during WWII where he ran the Army’s telephone system on Oahu. After discharge, he finished his college studies at Washington State Pullman in 1948 with a degree in electrical engineering. He liked to joke that the year he graduated the transistor was invented, which made everything he had learned obsolete. While still in uniform, he had met and swept Doris Alene Pedersen of Laurel off her feet and they married on October 23, 1948. He was working for the Bonneville Power Administration when Jim and Doris decided to take a chance on a start-up company, Page Communications Engineers. With a small child and one on the way, they moved to Anchorage on their first adventure together. There he worked on the first of many federal, state, and defense communications infrastructure projects. His next projects took the family to Virginia, Hawaii, and Virginia again where they landed in 1961 for what they thought was six months on the east coast. This assignment turned into 40 years in Bethesda, Maryland. While the family grew, Jim continued to travel throughout the world as a project manager, eventually taking on the role of Sr VP Engineering. His travels took him to every continent except Antarctica. He worked at Page until his retirement. Jim and Doris enjoyed traveling, tennis, dancing, and community engagement. Jim volunteered with the Bethesda First Baptist Church, St. Andrews Society, and Clan MacLeod Society. He had met the chief of the Clan MacLeod after the war and fell in love with the Isle of Skye in Scotland, continuing to visit and enjoy Highland culture and music. Eventually Jim and Doris decided to move back to Bellingham in 2001 to be close to family. Jim became active with the Alabama Hill Neighborhood Association and the Bellingham branch of the MacLeod Society. They made new friends, including many they met through the welcoming community of Garden Street United Methodist Church. Widowed in 2010, Jim again made new friends when he moved to The Willows in 2015. He enjoyed music and dancing at the Bellingham and Mt. Vernon senior centers. Jim treasured his family and is survived by his daughters Lynn McLeod (Dave Corbin), Lee Keller (Tom), Laurie McLeod (Mark Coffey), son Rory McLeod (Lauralee), foster daughter Erika Doring, grandchildren Kate, Annalise, Tovah, Samantha, Calyn, Neil, Elaina, plus great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews. His younger brother Tom predeceased him. The family looks forward to a celebration of his life later in the year when we are able to travel and share stories together. Condolences may be posted at www.JernsFH.com. The family suggests that memorial contributions be made to the Interfaith Coalition, a community of many faiths working together to eliminate homelessness and poverty in Whatcom County (https://www.interfaith-coalition.org/) or The Bellingham Festival of Music (http://bellinghamfestival.org/).
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