James Thomas GLEESON

James Thomas GLEESON was born 15 August 1923 in San Fracisco, the only son of James GLEESON and Mary Ellen LEE

When James was very young his mother became extremely ill and James went to live with has Auntie Nell (Vanderleith) and her son Forest. Jim could not pronounce Forest and called Forest "Uncle Foe-we". Jim said Forest, who was 7 years older than James, was not real happy about his little cousin following him around and calling him "Uncle Foe-we"..

Jim had multiple nicknames. Probably because he and his sister had the same names as their parents, the ended up with the nicknames of "Sis" and "Bud". So to his sister he was Bud and some of his neices and nephews called him "Uncle Jim" or "Uncle Bud". He was also know as "JT", his first two initials.

Jim lived in various neighborhoods in San Francisco prior to age 6. after which he resided at 1280 Sanchez Street, near 26th Street, except for time spent in the US Navy prior to his marriage in April 1947. Jim attended grammer school at St. Paul's and high school at St. Peters Boys High School, graduating in June of 1940. On August 14, 1940, a day before his 17th birthday, he began college at San Francisco City College with Civil Engineering as his goal. This was interrupted in 1943 when he  volunteered for the U.S. Navy.
Navy life lasted about 4 years, most of which was spent in the South Pacific aboard the USS Minneapolis, heavy cruiser. He earned 13 battle stars.
The most important time that happened during his time in the Navy was during the time spent in the Bremerton Ship Yards, near Seattle, for necessary repairs to  damage which occured during one of the many battles in the Pacific.It was the last night before leaving the Seattle area for a return to the Pacific theatre that a blind date was arranged by Roger Emerson, a fellow shipmate and buddy. The love bug struck that night, at least from Jim's side, per Jim, and Jim and Ruth began exchanging letters.
After many battles in the Pacific theatre, peace with the Japanese was attend and the "Minnie" as their ship was so affectionately called, escorted Admiral Kincade to Korea, and later to China, to accept peace from the Japanese in these areas. Upon completion of this mission, the Minnie was ordered to Philadelphia for decommissioning. A trip through the Panama Canal was enjoyed before visits to Philadelphia, New Jersey and New York while on liberty, which were greatly enjoyed. On April 10, 1946 Jim was honorably discharged, but he had to remain on reserve duty.
When Jim finally met Ruth again in late 1946, Jim propsed to Ruth, and luckily she accepted. They were married at St. Pauls Church in San Francisco on April 19, 1947.
Their family grew with the birth of their lovely daughter Gayle on September 22, 1948. Jim was then working for the State of California Division of Highways as an engineering aide and serving as a reserve RM1C. The Korean War broke out and orders were cut for Jim to report for full-time service in the Navy on June 12, 1950. However, to Jim and Ruth's great surprise, Ruth gave birth to not one child, but twins on June 10, 1950. The Navy allowed anyone with three children to claim hardship, and that was the option chosen.
Jim earned a contractors licenese while he continued working for the State of Calirornia, for the department now known as Caltrans. He was offered a position as Vice President, Chief Estimator, and general superintendent of construction for a small contractor specializing in landscaping, grading and paving. After several years the company had some financial problems at which time Jim took over the remnants of the company and formed James Rock Co and successfully avoided banckruptcy. After about 5 years, Jim and Ruth discussed the life they were forced to live during that time with Jim on the road at least 5 days a week. They decided to sell the company and return to Civil Engineering in 1960.
The next 27 years were spent in the employ of the City of Santa Clara with Jim retiring as City Engineer on November 3, 1986. Work, however, continued when Jim hung out his license as a Professional Civil Engineer until 1989 when true retirement life began.
Jim's father passed away in early 1948, leaving his mother $5,000 in life insurance. Half was used by Jim's mother for training as a seamstress and doing ladies alteration work. The other half was turned over to Jim with the intent to grow it so that her future was secure. Luck and many hours of study helped Jim grow this sum to supply his mother with funds to install a central heating system and perform many years of maintenance on the old family home. She also enjoyed a number trips to many places in the world and lived until she was 93, and had $40,000 left in her estate for Jim and his sister Mary Ellen Gleeson Murphy to share.
In 1954 a group of state engineers formed a stock club, and Jim joined it. The clubs by-laws were drawn up with a time limit on its life, which was a mistake, and was terminated in 1959. A new club was formed with posterity as its goal in 1960. This club had over 100 different members over the years, but was limited to 36 members maximum at any one time. They meet on the 3rd Friday of every month to discuss buying, selling, etc. Jim served as the treasurer of this group from 1960 through February 2007. A couple years ago, the group decided to disband.

Softball, volleyball and golf were the activities Jim enjoyed while a member of the Santa Clara City Hall team. Jim said he enjoyed golf as a hacker and he was a pitcher for the fast pitch softball team.
Jim enjoyed telling the story about coming home after a round of golf at the Villages when he was in has late 70's. He announces to Ruth that he got a hole-in-one on hole number eleven and Ruth says "that's wonderful dear, you only need one more the catch me." You see, Ruth has had two hole-in ones!!!!

Jim & Ruth, Easter Sunday 2010
James and his wife Ruth on Easter Sunday, 2010

3 generations of Gleesons
Three generations of GLEESONS.

Thios page was last updated on 10 August 2014