Monday, July 19, 2021
11:00 AM EDT
St. Genevieve - St. Maurice Parish
Livonia, MI 48154
Life Story / Obituary
James Herman Lancaster of Livonia passed away July 14, 2021, at the age of 84. Beloved husband of Mary. Loving father of Kelly (Christopher) Ogozaly. Dearest grandfather of Valentine. Preceded in death by his parents, William and Winifred Lancaster, and his siblings, William, Patricia (Tom) Kilgour, and Margaret (Larry) Wathen. Also survived by many nieces and nephews. James will be in-state 10:30am until the time of mass on Monday, July 19, 11:00 am at St. Genevieve – St. Maurice Parish, 29015 Jamison, Livonia, MI. Donations may be made to St. Jude Children’s Hospital, Capuchin Soup Kitchen, and/or the ASPCA.
Jim was born in Missouri, the third of four children to his parents Winnie and William Lancaster. His sister, Pat, was the oldest, followed by Bill and Margie—the baby of the family. He joined the Army when he was 18 on the strong recommendation of his Dad who he said told him to, "Get a job or join the Army."
After serving 2 years in the Army he started an apprenticeship in the jewelry business. Where he would eventually become a partner, but, more importantly, meet his lovely wife, Mary. Mary and Jim enjoyed 48 wonderful years of marriage and expanded their family when daughter Kelly was born.
Jim was a tough guy with a kind heart. He was generous and extremely proud of his family and he would rave about them to the waiters and waitresses at the restaurants and coffee shops he enjoyed visiting. He was a good Dad who tried to protect and prepare his daughter for what life would bring.
He would always ask if his son-in-law, Chris was recognized for an award or if his granddaughter won the election for student council. He had a vivid imagination and when it was his turn to put his daughter Kelly to bed he’d have her rolling with laughter at his silly, off the wall stories.
He would dance and sing songs he made up to make Mary and Kelly laugh and he continued that wonderful tradition with his granddaughter Valentine. He would play a tiny guitar with stretched out strings like it was a tuned classical instrument and make up silly songs and encourage her to do the same. They would make each other laugh and they'd surprise each other with their silly lyrics.
And he was brave. This included letting Kelly drive the family minivan home from school at the end of the street when she was 13. You should have seen his face when they reached the driveway and a police officer passed by. He claimed that she ran over the grass going up the driveway but she would tell you otherwise.
Jim was a loyal brother and son. When his brother Bill was sick and in a nursing home for several years, he visited him every evening. He did the same for his sister Pat when she was ill, lifting her spirits with sugar free scoops of ice cream. His family dedication continued with the unbreakable tradition of visiting his Mom, Winifred, every day after dinner.
He’d always take the family pup with him and on occasion Kelly and Mary too. He loved animals, especially dogs. He had a strong bond with the family dog, Popcorn. He would go to the car and open the door and Popcorn would hop in and they’d go for a drive.
Jim had many health problems that Mary helped him navigate. She made sure he followed his doctor’s advice and stayed healthy despite his reluctance to follow the rules. With a sweet tooth for cookies and ice cream he would roll his eyes and grumble, but usually do what he was supposed to do.
Jim loved to socialize or “shoot the breeze” as he’d say. He’d befriend anyone with time to chat, earning him the nickname of ‘the mayor’ with the hosts and waitstaff at Annie’s, one of Jim and Mary’s favorite places to grab an omelet or French toast.
As a young boy he liked to play baseball and would talk about playing the “hot corner”. He loved to watch the Tigers no matter their record. He watched them almost every day, the same way his Mom did.
Jim and Mary enjoyed hosting Thanksgiving for a number of years and he was famous for his stuffing, “Uncle Jim’s stuffing” was served often and paired well with the occasional Lions win and the many losses.
He rode to work with his father-in-law, Fred, every day and when the car broke down he got out and pushed them out of traffic. When taking family vacations, Jim didn’t believe in bringing a map and they often got lost but used the opportunity to make unplanned stops and have adventures.
One such adventure involved a drive through a zoo in Canada and Jim made sure to suggest that everyone roll down their windows to get a better experience. A very friendly camel poked his head in the window and gave Mary a big smooch on the cheek much to Jim’s amusement. Jim loved to be playful, often calling an unsuspecting Mary outside only to “accidentally” squirt her with the hose.
In his last few days with us, Jim lost his ability to fully communicate but he still told us he loved us and continued to ask about family accomplishments and inquire how everyone was doing. He loved his family, he loved life, and loved having fun. We will miss him so much, but we’re forever grateful for the joy, silliness, and love he provided for family and friends.
Thank you Jim, Dad, Grandpa. Rest well.