James Walter Parsons
James Walter Parsons was born December 2, 1918 in Red Bluff, Calif. to Ethel and Berkley Parsons. Jim Parsons lived a long, vibrant life. He was raised on ranches in Montana and Oregon which instilled a love of nature and a confident self reliance. After graduating with the Ashland High Class of 1936, he attended Southern Oregon Normal School and appeared in early Shakespeare Festival productions under Angus Bowmer. At a SONS dance, Jim met fellow student Effie Sweet from Port Orford. In June of 1941, Jim and Effie married and he graduated from the University of Oregon with a BA in broadcasting.
After the war broke out, Jim took a brief job in the SF bay area shipyards and daughters Patricia and Peggy were born. Jim then enlisted in the U.S Navy and served in the Philippines as a Lieutenant and commander of a group of landing craft. After discharge, he remained there and started an inter-island shipping business. The business thrived, but health issues brought Jim back to the States.
A career in broadcasting meant living in a big city, with no hunting or fishing close by, so he started a wood remanufacturing business in Ashland. A box factory emerged, utilizing trim ends from local mills, and provided packing boxes to the orchards in the valley. The business expanded and a cut-stock plant (Parsons Pine Products) was formed, with Fisher Price and Mattel as major clients. Two sons were added to the family, David and Steven. At the plant on Helman Street, louvre slats, door and window parts, and mouse and rat trap blanks were added to the product line. Jim built much of the machinery, patented a sand belt cleaner, and developed narrow kerf smooth saw blades to enhance production. The overriding goal was to utilize every inch of raw product. Parsons Pine Products prospered and employed more than one hundred people. Innovative incentives, such as well pay, safety pay, retro pay, and profit sharing were created and are now concepts used in management textbooks. Jim also served for several years on the Board of Directors for Navaho Forest Products.
In 1997 Jim and Effie sold the business and retired to Port Orford, Oregon. They built a beautiful house overlooking the bay which soon became a favorite location for family and friends' beach vacations, fishing trips, and especially hospitable, festive dinners. After retirement, Jim had plenty of time for ocean and river fishing, bow hunting, gardening, woodworking, and trips to a cabin on the Rogue River.
He loved singing and playing his guitar and harmonicas, and of course he loved Effie, his wife of 73 years, who was at his side when he passed April 2, 2014 at age 95, at the Rogue Valley Manor in Medford, Oregon. In the last week of his life, Jim was excited and pleased to meet his great-great-grandson. He is also survived by four great-grandchildren; six grandchildren; four children; his wife, Effie; his sister,
Eileen; and numerous nieces and nephews.