His friends at Orange County Friends Meeting called him James, a ‘spiritual’ name he used to distinguish the spiritual life and fellowship he came to enjoy in his later years. He knew that whoever called him James was a friend and that whoever called him Everett did not know him. James learned about Orange County Friends Meeting about 20 years ago when a local community group came by to help clean up his yard. This group included a member of our meeting, who later invited James to come and worship with us. He became a regular attender, enjoying the fellowship, Quaker faith and practice, and then became a member of our meeting in July of 2010, having found a spiritual home that he cherished and friends who welcomed his fellowship and became an extended family. In his letter requesting membership, he wrote:
“After 45 years of investigating and sometimes joining, all the major and very many of the smaller religions, I have strongly decided and believe this is the best one for me. … I believe peaceful change is the best kind and that the best community (small or worldwide) comes about through peace, equality and simplicity.”
James was originally from Royal Oak Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. He came to Southern California in the 1960s, moving from one car culture hub to another. James loved to tinker on old cars, and, at one point, had 13 of them. He undertook many endeavors, including creating an online camping and outdoor equipment business at the onset of the ‘dot com’ era.
James developed a strong ethic concerning food, supported by his own research and other trusted sources. He stood strongly against the use of Genetically Modified Organisms and harmful pesticides, and he favored organic foods. He developed a complex regimen based on the Blood Type diet which he held to assiduously in his later years. James was always glad to share his knowledge and research, patiently explaining the rationale for which foods to avoid, which items to always buy organic and why these choices matter.
His friends at Orange County Friends Meeting enjoyed discussing spiritual insights and questions with James. He was an avid seeker, a universalist in his spiritual outlook and someone who welcomed and then cherished opportunities to engage in conversations about God and the divine. Our Quaker meeting’s annual Christmas gathering became a highlight of the year for James, where he could be seen every year, often engaged in quiet conversation off to the side with one friend or another. He looked forward to attending our party for 2017, but sadly he died just a few weeks before it occurred.
As James’ health began to decline in November of 2017, a group of Quaker friends formed a close caring team to assist with household concerns, to provide shelter and to be involved in his medical care. Through the painful and dramatic transition from independently living in his own home, to hospice care and finally death, all within a few weeks, the friends involved in his caring team came to know James much more deeply and are deeply grateful for the gifts we received from him, his love most of all, but also his trust, friendship, kindness, stories and insights.