Lt CMD James Ralph Bair, US Navy, Retired, 88, of Cape Carteret, passed away at his home on Tuesday, November 29,2022, with his family by his side. He was born September 28,1934 a son to the late Ralph James and Louise Compton Bair.
A private family Celebration of Life will be held at a later date.
Born in Denver and raised on a farm in Grand Junction Colorado, Jim loved the outdoors. The Colorado National Monument was a favorite destination as well as hunting with his best friend George on Grand Mesa. Jim and George Hammond even faced down a bear on one elk hunting trip. Jim’s father, Ralph, died when Jim was very young, as did Jim’s twin brother, Jack, who passed when he was just a toddler. He grew up with three sisters, Betty, Bobby, and Helen, and his mom, Louise, a tight knit loving family.
Jim loved sports. He played golf, tennis and was captain of his basketball team in HS and college. After HS, Jim gave a neighbor a ride to San Francisco from Colorado. A big adventure for a smalltown farm boy in 1952. The trip was filled with beautiful sights that Jim talked about for years. His neighbor was one of the engineers who worked on the Golden Gate Bridge.
He traveled with his sister by train cross country to go to college in South Carolina, where he met Mary, the love of his life. They wed after college. She was a music teacher, and he joined the Navy to become a pilot. He received an MBA degree from George Washington, flew for the Navy on the USS Intrepid. Jim and Mary had three girls, Marcia, Jana and Lisa, moving the whole gang from base to base more than 10 times.
Jim was a proud veteran and always wore his beloved Navy Vet hat. He loved meeting and talking with all who thanked him for his service. It was a true joy for him. He attained the rank of Lt Commander during his decade with the Navy and was stationed on the USS Intrepid.
Jim, saw the Bay of Pigs Invasion, Cuban Missile Crisis and some of the Vietnam war. If you ask a Navy pilot if it's stressful landing on an aircraft carrier, they will always play the experience down, except if you have to land at night. Jim's mission was night recon. Out of his 200+ carrier landings, over 100 were night "traps" (landings.)
Jim was a true hero to his family and friends.
After the Navy, Jim flew everything from 707's to a DC Airbus for Pan American, People's Express and Continental Airlines. He saw the world, through both the Navy and as a commercial pilot, visiting all seven continents! He became an airport manager and flight instructor. Happily retiring in Emerald Isle and Cape Carteret, Jim and Mary were part of the effort to launch and build the West Cape Carteret Library and were always involved in community activities.
Jim had a tender heart for his family and friends. Many friends have become ‘family.’ He made sure to let his children and grandchildren know how special they were, spending time with each for a golf outing, getting a haircut, shelling adventure at the beach, boat trip or just a good debate about books, life, religion or politics.
He was the best story and joke teller, bear hugger, gift giver, fixit man, Dad and ‘Red Baron’ there ever was! James Ralph Bair, we will miss you and hold your memory in our hearts forever.
He is survived by his daughters, Marcia McMahan, Lisa Miller both of the home, and Jana Puckett of Roswell, GA; grandchildren, Mackenzie McMahan, Morgan, McMahan, Megan Morreale, and Cole Puckett; and beloved pets.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Mary Rosalie Bair; sisters, Bobby Cherry, Betty Erickson, and Helen Greenhill; and brother, Jack Bair.
In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to the Wounded Warriors Project, (woundedwarriorproject.com), the Cape Carteret Western Library, 230 Taylor Notion Rd., Cape Carteret, NC 28584 or the Southern Poverty Law Center, (splcenter.org).
Arrangements are by Jones Funeral Home-Swansboro. Online condolences may be made at www.jonesfh.org.
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