Albert David James of South Wellfleet died peacefully on Dec. 12, 2021 at Seashore Point in Provincetown. The cause of death, confirmed by his nephew Chris James, was prostate cancer. Dave, as he was known to most, was 89.
The son of the late George and Blanche (Littlefield) James, Dave was born and raised in Manchester-by-the-Sea. At Story High School, he was the tallest player on the basketball team. His graduating class in 1949 had fewer than 20 students.
Soon after graduation, he followed a family tradition and enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He was on active duty from 1950 to 1953 during the Korean war, where he served as an aviation machinist’s mate 2nd class.
Upon returning to civilian life, Dave studied to become a diesel mechanic for boats, but because there was little opportunity in that field, he took a job with Pratt & Whitney Aircraft in East Hartford, Conn. He started as an entry level technician and attended evening classes at the University of Hartford in mechanical engineering.
He remained with Pratt & Whitney for 32 years, working on jet engines for commercial aircraft. He became known worldwide for his expertise as he traveled the globe to support Pratt & Whitney customers. His work on the J-T8D and J-T9D jet engines was of special significance, as they were used on the Boeing 727 and 747.
According to nephew Chris James, Dave had always dreamed of trying heli-skiing, a type of back-country skiing that requires a helicopter to access remote slopes of virgin powder snow. He fulfilled that dream in the Canadian Rockies.
Dave was introduced to Helen Tober by mutual friends and the couple married in 1970. They loved to ski together, which they did as members of the Springfield Ski Club and on trips to Europe and the Rockies. They especially loved skiing with friends in Vail, Colo. They were married for 43 years.
Dave retired in 1997. He and Helen settled in a cottage he had bought near Lecount Hollow Beach in the late 1960s. They often wintered in Colorado and summered in Wellfleet. Dave kept a fishing boat and a sailboat at Wellfleet Harbor, his summer often filled with fishing, sailing, and lazy days on the beach.
Chris said his cousins remember Dave as the fun-loving uncle who was always ready to play whenever they got together. Dave is also remembered by many friends in Longmeadow and Wellfleet.
David leaves two brothers, William James of Salisbury and Francis James of Drake’s Island, Maine. He is also survived by a daughter, Janet Berntsen of Chapel Hill, N.C., whom he came to know for the first time late in his life.
He was predeceased by his wife, Helen, in 2013, and by his brother, George Robert James, and his sister, Patricia (James) Amason.
A celebration of David’s life will be held at a date and time to be announced.