James Edward Muilenburg Jr. died peacefully on Sunday, May 25, 2014, in Santa Barbara, Calif.
Just after celebrating his 91st birthday at Cliff View Terrace, Jim decided he was ready to depart this world, and did so with the dignity and grace that was so much a part of his character. Less than two weeks after becoming ill, he succumbed to pneumonia in the comfort and care of the staff at Serenity House, with his good friend Suzanne by his side. Those who were with him at the end recall that during his final days — indeed in his final moments, he could be heard singing his favorite tunes.
Jim was the first born of three children to James and Mayme Muilenburg in Lincoln, Neb. As a result of his father’s numerous academic postings, Jim spent various years his youth in Nebraska, Germany, Maine and ultimately Berkeley, Calif., where he graduated from high school.
Following high school, Jim entered Occidental College, but his education was interrupted by the war. In 1943, Jim entered the U.S. Army where he served as a “canonier” with the 11th Armored Division in the European Theater of World War II, earning three battle stars during the course of his service. One of Jim’s favorite stories, and a recollection that brought tears to his eyes right up until his final days, was of the day Germany surrendered; when he witnessed the German troops raise their white flags, and knew that the bitter fight was finally over. Following an honorable discharge from the service, Jim returned to school to finish his college education at Columbia University.
Upon graduation, Jim married Ruth Dutrow and began a long and distinguished career in the hotel management industry. He first worked in NYC, later in Los Angeles, at many of the country’s premiere hotels. Upon his retirement from the Los Angeles Bonaventure, Jim moved to Santa Barbara, where he quickly became a beloved member of our community.
Prior to moving to Cliff View Terrace in late 2013, Jim lived for two decades at the Edgerly, where his wit and helpfulness were appreciated by residents and staff alike. An avid golfer, lawn bowler and ever-ready usher at the Granada Theatre, Jim kept busy with a variety of daily activities, rarely slowing down or showing signs of his advancing age.
Jim is survived by son James Muilenburg III (Sandra) of New York, sister Janet Gray of North Carolina, and several nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by estranged wife Ruth in 2007, son David in 2010 and brother Lawrence in 2011.
Jim was appreciative of his physicians, caregivers and the superb care he received at Serenity House and requested specific thanks be given to Dr. Blum at the Santa Barbara VA Clinic, the staff at Cliff View Terrace, and the nurses, doctors and hospice caregivers at Serenity House.
At Jim’s request, an informal celebration of his life will held at the Upham Hotel at 4 p.m. Friday, June 20. For more information and to RSVP, please email [email protected] or call 805.966.1006.
A memorial tree has been dedicated to Jim through Santa Barbara Beautiful. Having walked many of the city’s streets, he would be delighted to have you walk past “his” tree — it’s on the northwest corner of State and Carrillo streets right in front of Saks.