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GERRY JAMES October 22, 1934 - February 13, 2024


October 22, 1934 - February 13, 2024

Gerry 'Kid Dynamite' James, known as Jesse to family and friends, peacefully passed away in Nanaimo Hospital, BC with his beloved wife of 70 years, Marg, at his side. After a life of adventure and many accomplishments, he is now at peace and released from the health challenges of recent years.
A husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and great-great grandfather, he leaves behind his wife Marg; five children, Debra, Kelly Charles (Marnie), Tara (Jerry), Tracy (Gary), and Brady; 11 grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren, and one great-great granddaughter. Gerry was predeceased by his father and mother, Eddie 'Dynamite' and Moira McLean, his older brother Don, and favourite Aunt Lillian.
Gerry was born in Regina, SK and as a youngster moved to Winnipeg. His love of play and sports was forged at an early age, and he soon excelled at them all - football, hockey, baseball, soccer, ran track and played basketball. He credited his leg strength and endurance to his constant year-round cycling around River Heights. While attending Runnymede Collegiate in Toronto in 1952, at age 17, he joined the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to become the youngest player ever to play in the Canadian Football League. Tom Casey, another Bomber running back, immediately became Gerry's mentor and a major influence on his career. While starring in the CFL, he joined the Toronto Maple Leafs for his first NHL game in 1955, and played with the Toronto Marlboros which won the Memorial Cup that same year. As a true two sport star he played for the Bombers from 1952 through 1962, the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 1964, and the Toronto Maple Leafs from 1954 to 1960. Gerry was the only athlete to play in both a Grey Cup and Stanley Cup in the same sporting season (1959-1960). He was a member of the Blue Bombers which appeared in six Grey Cups and won four, in 1958, 1959, 1961 and 1962. After playing with the Winnipeg Warriors for the 1963-1964 season, in 1964 he first coached in Davos, Switzerland where he led his Swiss team against Father David Bauer's Canadian Olympic team. He then settled his family in Yorkton, Saskatchewan. From 1965 through 1989 Gerry was an influential and charismatic figure in that province's hockey programs in Yorkton, Melville, Estevan, and Moose Jaw.
In its inaugural year Gerry won the CFL's Schenley Award as its 1954 Most Outstanding Canadian player. He won the award again in 1957 and was a six-time CFL All-Star. At one time Gerry held 18 CFL records. In addition to the Grey Cup and Memorial Cup wins, Gerry's unique sporting accomplishments as one of Canada's most versatile and best athletes at the highest levels of two sports earned him membership into many Halls of Fame (HOF), including the Saskatchewan Sports HOF, Yorkton Sports HOF, Saskatchewan Hockey HOF, Manitoba Sports HOF, and the Manitoba Hockey HOF. Of special significance to Gerry was when he joined his father in the Canadian Football HOF and the Winnipeg Football Club's HOF. In 1957 he was the runner-up to Maurice 'Rocket' Richard as Canada's Athlete of the Year for the Lou Marsh Award. Later he would become the third member of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Ring of Honour.
Gerry and Marg moved to Nanoose Bay, BC in 1997 and built their dream home on the Fairwinds Golf Club. Golf became his primary sport, and later with a large group of friends he enjoyed many a game of darts. With little fanfare Gerry gave back to his communities in many ways, by doing rather than joining. He coached Pee Wee hockey teams and floor hockey for mentally challenged youth, delivered countless Meals on Wheels, and spent hours in the Salvation Army food kitchen serving meals. At Christmas he could be seen manning the Salvation Army's kettles along the Island Highway, he drove many patients to their medical appointments, and for several years he fundraised for the Heart & Stroke Foundation. As an athlete who played physical contact sports when hockey helmets were not used, Gerry supported and contributed to Canada's Concussive Brain Injury Study through regular cognitive testing.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donations or service to one of the worthwhile community programs that Gerry supported.
Cremation has already taken place, and at his request there will be no service.
Condolences may be sent to the family through the First Memorial Funeral Services, 1720 Bowen Road, Nanaimo, BC V9S 1G9.