James J. (Jim) Loftus Jr. was born in San Francisco on June 9, 1924, to James and Molly Loftus.
His faith was tested early when both parents died by the time Jim was 14. His aunt, Anne O’Connell, and cousins Martin, Daniel, Helen and Nancy welcomed him into their home, where cousins became siblings with lifelong bonds.
Jim attended St. Joseph’s High School in Alameda, California, where he was the starting center on the 1941 and 1942 Pilots basketball teams. On Dec. 8, 1942, he enlisted in the Marines and saw action with an air unit in the New Hebrides Islands, Solomon Islands, Kwajalein and Peleliu. He was discharged on October 10, 1945.
He soon made several life decisions. He married Mary King on Oct. 11, 1947; found employment with the phone company, and joined the USMC Reserve Signal Battalion, which would be activated in 1950 for the Korean War.
Jim’s Radio Relay Platoon landed at Inchon, Korea, on Sept. 15, 1950, with the First Marine Division, seeing action in the battle of Chosin Reservoir and the 70-mile march to the sea. His grandson, Sean Trudell, interviewed both his grandfather and his commanding officer, Capt. Lonnie Massey, for a history project on the Inchon to Chosin campaign. In a message sent on Jim’s 90th birthday, Massey said “Loftus was a good steady Marine. Good with setting up and securing radio equipment and being a good code operator.” Jim was only 26, but as a veteran of WWII, his fellow Marines in Korea dubbed him “One of the Old Retreads.” Jim was safely back home on July 1, 1951.
He and Mary had six children, Jeanne, Jim, Teresa, Rosemary, Eileen and Julie. In addition to his 35-year career with the phone company, Jim often worked a second part-time job. Thanks to Mary’s instinct for real estate, the two of them also acquired rental properties, and Jim was manager and handyman for 45 years. He was also a longstanding member of the St. Vincent DePaul Society at St. Cecilia’s Parish in San Francisco.
After his wife died in 2005, Jim moved to Pleasanton, California, near three of his daughters. He traveled from Alaska to Virginia to visit other family members, and made numerous trips to spots he wanted to see in America. In 2009, he traveled to Ireland to find his mother’s family home in Waterford. He got to know all 13 of his grandchildren and the ever-expanding great grandchild count.
He was beloved by all who came to know him. He did not dwell on the negative, enjoyed solving problems, possessed a quick wit, and never asked anything for himself, only gave to family and friends. Donations made be made in Jim’s memory to Hope Hospice.