He was born August 15, 1949 in Wichita, Kansas. Later that year, the family moved to Minatare, Nebraska, where James grew up. In his youth, he was a carrier for the Scottsbluff Star Herald in Minatare. He graduated from Minatare High School in 1967.
James attended the University of Nebraska for several years before deciding to enlist in the Army. He served for eight years, seeing overseas duty in Korea and Thailand. While serving at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, he received Solider of the Year honors.
James left the service to finish his college education. He graduated from the University of Montana in 1981 with a degree in Business Administration.
He worked in the family restaurant after graduation from college.
James had taken an avid interest in the family’s Finnish history. He was teaching himself the Finnish language and often signed his emails as Tiili, an abbreviation of the original family name.
James was preceded in death by his parents, Paul and Dorothea (Pat); and brothers, John, Christopher, Charles and Micheal. He is survived by brothers, Roger, Joseph, Stephen; and sisters, Ruth, Kathaleen, Patricia and Valerie.
James will be interred on June 28, 2019 in Tahoma National Cemetery in Kent, Washington. The service will start at 12:30 p.m.