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Wassman, James Alan

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July 26, 1941 - May 10, 2017

Wassman, James Alan

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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Eric Pedersen

June 14, 2017 3:05PM

I have fond memories of Jim from the time we both worked for USLIFE Systems at the All American Life offices in Chicago in the late 1970's. He was a great teacher. Without the classes he taught I probably would have been to lazy to learn the material for the math course that was part of LOMA's FLMI program. RIP Jim...

Eric (and Caryl) Pedersen

Leah Jones

June 12, 2017 2:11PM

Condolences from your neighbors. Mr.Wassman and I always checked the mailbox together for many years; we always chatted. Those trips to the mailbox have been missed. I guess it is now my goal to get the sidewalk fixed. 😊

Dian McCarty

June 12, 2017 8:08AM

I see Jim and Ben Hayes laughing as "the outlaws". Both great men with a smart sense of humor. Jim will be missed, I'm sure. My condolences to all.

Larry & Sheila Balagna

June 11, 2017 9:52PM

Jim was such an interesting person. We had the good fortune to meet him at the IAS and enjoy his sweet smile and the chuckles he would give, with his eyes crinkling with merriment. Jim, we will miss you. RIP.

Lisa Branson

June 11, 2017 10:44AM

My condolences to my dear friend Kate and family. I will always remember Jim's smile because you could see it in his eyes. He is missed!

Jack & Leslie Botu

June 11, 2017 9:29AM

We loved Jim! His zest for life, his great pleasure from wine and food, his ready smile, his kindness, and most of all his tender love of Kate. He will be missed always, and yet here with us forever.

Gina Lecca

June 11, 2017 8:33AM

Pedro and I send our deepest sympathy to Kate and the Wassman family. We will remember Jim as a sweet and joyfull soul.

Phillip Faulkner

June 09, 2017 6:17PM

Jim was a valued co-worker and great friend @ USLIFE.

Sandy Lauder

June 07, 2017 7:11AM

I also knew Jim from volunteering as an Ambassador at the DFW Airport. Jim always had a smile and a joke. He will be missed. RIP Jim.

Nancy Birdwell

May 31, 2017 4:47PM

I knew Jim through the DFW Ambassador Program, even though am now retired. We shared a love for animals and many tales about the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanob, Utah. Jim was witty and very funny. Will miss his friendship.

Joe Martino

May 31, 2017 6:41AM

Jim was always a pleasure to work with. He never complained and loved helping passengers at the airport. He will be greatly missed.

Sharon O'Rourke

May 30, 2017 4:07PM

The whole world smiled the day you were born and now the heavens are rejoicing at your homecoming. Rest in peace dear friend.

Cynthia McDonald

May 30, 2017 1:00PM

We at the IAS will greatly miss Jim. Even through his illnesses we knew that he would be there if he could. He always greeted everyone with a big smile and a story. I loved seeing how active he kept himself even up to the end. We will miss him in the IAS. Our prayers are with Kate and the family.