July 26, 1941 - May 10, 2017
James A Wassman passed from this life on May 10, 2017 with his wife by his side. A Chicago native, he was born July 26, 1941 to Walter and Louise Wassman and spent his childhood years in Kankakee, IL and Dallas, TX.
He attended Amundsen High School in Chicago and graduated Northwestern University while working for North American Life Insurance and raising a family. After North American became part of the USLife family and as Jim’s career advanced, he eventually transferred to the Dallas office of USLife Systems in 1979, residing in Carrollton. He achieved a number of professional designations and served in several industry organizations including SIR and Life Office Management Association. He and Kate met in NYC and began their wonderful marriage together in 1984. He retired in 1997, as Senior Vice-President of Research and Development.
He is survived by his wife, Katherine, children Suzan and John, daughter-in-law Debbie, grandchildren Jennifer and James, three great-grandchildren, Antonio, Abby, and Nate and a loving extended family and friends.
Known for his dry wit and humor, Jim embraced every day with joy. His zest for life, his love and concern for others, his gentle and generous spirit, and his integrity and dedication reflected in all that he did. An impassioned believer in education, Jim served on the Hawthorn School District Board of Education for many years where his children attended school. He had a proud moment of handing them their diplomas at graduation. He set a culture at USLife of family unity and “whatever it takes to get the job done.” He was a member of Tejas Storytelling Association, the Irish American Society and the Italian Club. After retiring from USLife, he volunteered with Children’s Hospital in the cancer ward, Operation Kindness, their “Acts of Kindness” outreach to nursing homes, and at DFW Airport as an Ambassador, where he loved the interaction with travelers, always bringing home a new story. Even in his pain in the last few years, he would say “I got you to smile, that’s my job” to those caring for him.
His life is woven of many wonderful stories and people: His early years with his grandmother in Kankakee, roaming farmland with his dog and helping Martha at the truck stop; early travel as a child on planes and trains to Texas where his mother worked; high school pranks and the discovery of Greek food – to the extent of being renamed “Dimitri Picapopolus”; hard work and growth of career knowledge while enjoying practical jokes; the joy of friends and strangers; the discovery of wine and food pairings that would “explode” in your mouth. No matter where we travelled, people would ask him for directions –even if it were the first time in that place, he could direct them! He delighted in making the navigation system “recalculate” by taking his own path. Perhaps that was his philosophy of life: take your own path.
He was that rare individual who remained true to himself without apology while supporting and encouraging others, even when their opinion differed. He enjoyed a good debate and battle of wits. Jim – or JAWS – loved people; he was a great listener and an astute observer with a breadth of well- studied interests. A voracious reader, he loved history, travelling, sports – especially his Bears and Cowboys, Stars and Black Hawks – stories, music, wine, boating, good food and times, animals and above all his Kate, family and friends. His loyalty and tenacity, his patience and genuine caring left an indelible impression on everyone he met. Strong in his beliefs, he frequently wore his heart on his sleeve (or shirt, or pinned to hat or jacket). His presence was so strong that it will continue in the lives of all who knew him.
Jim’s life will be celebrated at a funeral Mass at St Catherine of Siena, 1705 E. Peters Colony Road, Carrollton, Texas on Monday, June 12 at 11:00 am.
His favorite charities include Guiding Eyes for the Blind, Toys for Tots, and animal and veteran organizations.
He will be so very missed and remembered.
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