James (Jim) Kane, of Pleasanton, died on Jan. 21. He was 95. He was born in the Bitterroot Valley in rural Montana, near the town of Corvallis, on Dec. 14, 1925. He graduated from Corvallis High School in 1943, and enlisted in the U.S. Army that year. Assigned to the infantry, he saw combat in Europe and was awarded battle stars for the Rhineland and Central Europe, campaigns, as well as a Silver Star and Combat Infantry Badge. His unit liberated the Nazi concentration camp at Flossenburg, Germany. After the war ended in Europe, he served during the occupation of Japan. He was discharged from the military in April 1946.
In the fall of 1946, Jim enrolled at what is now Montana State University, in Bozeman, majoring in chemistry. During the summers, he worked for the U.S. Forest Service as a lookout/smoke chaser in the Bitterroot Forest of Western Montana. After graduating, he went to work as a process chemist for General Electric, at the Hanford Site in Washington State, which produced plutonium.
In February 1952, Jim became a graduate student in chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley. He received his PhD in June 1955. While at Berkeley, he met Marilyn Murphy and they were married in June 1954. The following year, they moved to Livermore, where Jim joined what was then UCRL, now the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, where he would eventually become head of the Chemistry and Materials Science Department. In 1963, Jim and his family moved to Pleasanton, where all of their children attended public schools. In the early 1970s, Jim was a member of the Pleasanton Elementary School board.
In 1974, following the OPEC oil embargo, Jim moved to Washington, D.C., where he organized and directed the first federal government research and development organization dedicated to the conservation of energy. He was later appointed deputy director for energy research for the U.S. Department of Energy.
Jim left government service in February 1985, and went to work for the University of California as a special assistant to the university president, with responsibility for assisting with contractor relationships between three national laboratories – Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory – and the university. He retired in 1991. After his retirement, Jim was an active member of the Livermore-Amador Valley Garden Club.
His wife died in 2006, and in her honor, Jim provided funding to the City of Pleasanton for the construction of the Marilyn Murphy Kane Trail along the Arroyo de la Laguna west of town.
He is survived by sons, Tom (Diann Lewis), of Menlo Park; Bruce (Erica), of Chevy Chase, Maryland, and daughter, Lisa (Richard) Walsh, of Orinda, California. He is also survived by seven granddaughters, Lindsay, Dana and Cameron Walsh; Allison and Amy Lewis; and Laurel and Holly Kane. Two sisters and a brother predeceased him.
Jim was a congenial and friendly individual who will be missed. Interment is scheduled for 11 a.m., Friday, Jan. 31, at St. Augustine Cemetery in Pleasanton.