The Curry Coastal Pilot

James Wade Thebaut was born Jan. 7, 1942, in Burbank, Calif., and passed away on Nov. 21, 2011, in Medford.

As a young boy, Jim moved to Alaska, where his family homesteaded. He grew up amid Alaska's raw natural beauty. All his life, Jim sought nature for contemplation and reconnection. He once said that Brookings reminded him of Alaska, except for the winters.

Freshly graduated out of Anchorage High School in 1961, Jim tried to sign up for military service, but was sent back to gain a little more "heft." In 1964, he enlisted with the United States Navy and served for six years aboard the USS Bennington and the USS Oriskany. Honorably discharged in California, he met his first wife, Linda, and convinced her to move with him to Alaska, where he worked for the school district. After a long, fulfilled marriage, he was widowed in 2001 in Las Vegas.

In 2002 he met his second wife, Bridget, in Las Vegas. They married the same year. After retirement in 2007, the couple moved to Brookings.

Jim was a loving husband and family man. He was deeply engaged in helping veterans and was involved in the rebuilding of VFW Post 966 in Brookings to become the gathering place it is today. He served as post commander from 2009 until 2011.

Jim brought to Brookings the "Moving Wall," a moveable monument bearing the names of all service men and women who gave their lives during the Vietnam War. He had once brought it to Alaska, and believed it would benefit the community beyond the immediate memorial. For three days in June 2010, people came to the Kite Field at the Port of Brookings Harbor, some in solemn contemplation, some crying, some bringing flowers or little presents for the soldiers who had given their mostly young lives. Most of all, people started talking with one another. Jim knew this, and he knew about the importance of these conversations. He stepped back and let the healing take place.

Jim is survived by his wife, Bridget Thebaut; his sisters Joanne Steik of Alaska and Shirley Cox of Tennessee; and his daughters Barbara Anne Bauer of Brookings and Kathrin Kleindorfer of Austria. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Linda Thebaut.

A memorial service will be held at noon Thursday, Dec. 8, 2011, the VFW Post 966, 507 Pacific Ave., Brookings.

Submitted by the family.