BELLOWS FALLS, Vt. – Stephen L. James, 80, of Atkinson St., passed away peacefully on Feb. 24, 2023, surrounded by his family and friends. He was born on Sept. 28, 1942, at his grandmother’s farmhouse in Walpole, N.H., the son of Leon (Jarmacz) James and Frances Kilburn. He attended school in Walpole, graduating from Walpole High School on June 16, 1961. On June 5, 1965, he married Carol Barry of Bellows Falls, Vt., where they subsequently made a home. During his younger years, Steve worked at the A&P, then went to work for Mac McAuliffe. Steve and Carol bought the business from Mac in the 60s, renaming it James Plumbing & Heating. They owned and operated this family business for 43 years before selling it to their son, Tony James. In addition to the plumbing and heating business, Steve and Carol owned and operated Speedy Steve’s Laundromat in North Walpole, N.H. for over 35 years. Steve was also an active member of the Bellows Falls Fire Department from the early 70s until 1982 when he suffered a heart attack during the Cray Block fire in Downtown Bellows Falls. Steve is known for his heroism when on Dec. 29, 1981, he rescued a woman from the Star Hotel fire in Bellows Falls.
When Steve wasn’t working he enjoyed taking his children and grandchildren, their friends, and many nieces and nephews fishing, hiking, hunting, camping, and mushroom and apple picking. Steve proudly fed his family and neighbors with his bountiful annual garden. He enjoyed planting a variety of vegetables and beautiful flowers. He taught many kids to ski when he helped out in the local school ski program. Even though Steve always seemed busy he took time to support and help his kids and those throughout the community. Steve also took great pride in his home on Atkinson Street. His home was open to everyone. Steve loved cooking for his family and his neighbors. He was especially known for his famous weekend pancakes. It was rare to walk into Steve’s house and not find a kettle of fresh popped popcorn and a variety of snacks which he would offer to his customers and their children whenever they came to the house to pay their plumbing bill, ask questions, or just pay a visit.
He is survived by his sister Madeline (Jack) Rice of Saxtons River, his partner Judy Budzik of Saxtons River; his three children Stefan James of Rockingham, Tony James and wife Dianna James of Bellows Falls, and his daughter Julia James-Torres and fiancé Gerry Guertin of Springfield, Vt.; grandchildren Zachary James, Kyle Spaulding, Charlene Kendall, Johanna Rodriguez, Edward Rodrguez, Dorion Bolden, Brooke James, Antonio Torres, and Stefan James; great-grandchildren Nehemiah James, Dominic James, Mia Spaulding, Sincere James, and Isla Spaulding Torres, and many nieces and nephews.
Steve was predeceased by his wife, Carol Barry James, in 2015. He is also predeceased by his parents.
Visiting hours will take place on Friday, March 3, from 4-8 p.m. at the Fenton and Hennessey Funeral Home, 55 Westminster St. in Bellows Falls. A Mass of Christian Burial will take place Saturday March 4, at 1 p.m. at St. Charles Church in Bellows Falls, with burial to follow at St. Charles Cemetery.
Arrangements have been entrusted to the care of the Fenton and Hennessey Funeral Home in Bellows Falls, Vt. www.fentonandhennessey.com.