James C. Crittenden
June 25, 1921-March 29, 2016
San Rafael, California
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James C. Crittenden, a longtime resident of Ladera, died March 29 in his home in San Rafael. He was 94.
He was born in Seattle in 1921 and grew up in Lodi, Sanger and San Jose. Early acquiring a lifelong fascination with automobiles and their design, he studied art and industrial arts at San Jose State College until being drafted in 1943.
After training in aircraft and weapons maintenance, he applied and was accepted to Officer Candidate School. As a lieutenant in the Ordnance Corps, he served in Guadalcanal and the Philippines managing equipment maintenance.
Immediately after the war he was ordered to Japan to inspect and document coastal artillery sites. Traveling to and within Japan, he witnessed the devastation of Hiroshima and Tokyo.
Returning to San Jose, he completed his degree and began teaching art and industrial design at Mountain View High School in 1947, later transferring to the new Awalt High School in the same district.
He met Isobel Heath and they married in 1949. In 1950 they took a long cycling and driving trip through Europe where they saw further wartime damage in London and Berlin.
In 1951, they joined the early residents of Ladera, designing and building their own home where they would raise their three children. The Crittendens were among the founding members of Ladera Community Church. In 1958-59 Jim took a sabbatical to work toward his MFA degree at Stanford, and the family traveled to New Zealand, where he studied Maori art, supporting the effort by doing location filming for an educational documentary.
In the 1960s he discovered another lifelong passion, sailing. The family rapidly progressed from launching dinghies on lakes and in the South Bay, to cruising aboard larger boats in Europe, the Pacific Northwest and Mexico.
In 1977 Isobel died after a long illness and Jim took early retirement. He bought a boat in Maryland and in 1981 sailed across the Atlantic. He would spend much of the 80s cruising Europe from the eastern Mediterranean around to Scandinavia. In 1984 he met Doris Schwarz and they married in 1986, settling in Marin County.
Jim was a mainstay of his church choirs, first at Ladera Community Church and later at Community Congregational Church in Tiburon. He was an accomplished painter, a sculptor and trombonist.
He enthusiastically studied, collected and repaired cars, doing a full body-off restoration of a 1930 Chrysler during the 1960s.
He worked for peace and international understanding, driven by the destruction he saw after World War II. He was a gregarious friend, connecting with acquaintances and making new ones all over the world in his travels and theirs.
He was preceded in death by his first wife Isobel in 1977 and his second wife Doris in 2011. He is survived by his children, Winnie Crittenden of Sausalito, Max Crittenden of Menlo Park, and Russell Crittenden of San Rafael; stepdaughter Nancy Jackson of Capitola; seven grandchildren and three step-grandchildren, and one great-granddaughter.
Tags: veteran, teacher/educator