|Birth: ||Aug. 24, 1928|
|Death: ||Apr. 11, 1987|
From the Chicago Tribune, April 12, 1987:
"James L. Magruder, 58, a writer for trade journals, died Saturday at his Hanover Park home. Services will be at 7:30 p.m. Monday in the chapel at 415 N. Gary Ave., Carol Stream. Mr. Magruder was a member of the Chicago Press Club and St. Andrew's Society and Clan Gregor Society of Chicago. He was a veteran of World War II. He is survived by his wife, Barbara Ann, a son, [name omitted]; his mother, Athene; one grandchild, and a brother."
James "Cactus Jim" Magruder was a man of letters, often working as an independent writer. He also worked occasionally in sales & marketing (insurance, construction materials).
Jim read voraciously from an early age, and he earned full adult privileges at the local public library when he had read every single volume in the library available to him as a child.
The chosen motto for Manatee High School's Class of 1946 was "esse quam videri" ("To be, rather than to seem (to be)"), and Jim was a very active teenager. In high school, he was superior academically, as well as an exceptional multi-sport athlete (football, basketball, swimming, boxing) while also playing in the marching and orchestral bands and acting in various thespian groups. He was offered a full scholarship by Duke University to be on their swimming team, but lost it when he suffered a knee injury playing football as a senior. (He refused to attend the University of Florida because UF "wasn't good enough".)
Jim was fortunate to learn drawing/cartooning from V. T. Hamlin, the author of the nationally-syndicated "Alley Oop" cartoon, who lived in nearby Sarasota.
Jim's half brother, Charles, lived in New York City, and Jim spent a few summers there working as a lifeguard at a hotel swimming pool. Because Charles ran with a very eclectic crowd, Jim met many famous personalities, such as Talulah Bankhead and Truman Capote, at what he called "Charles' booze parties". Of Talulah Bankhead, he once wrote "[she's] very nice - for a drunken lesbian rattlesnake".
After he graduated from high school, his life took some very sharp turns. Between June 1946 and June 1947, he joined and then was honorably discharged from the U.S. Coast Guard, and he married his first wife, Beverley Norrie, then was summarily discharged from the institution of marriage as well. Bev was a high school classmate with which he had a long and torrid romance (according to his brother, who described her as breathtakingly beautiful). All indications are that they eloped. Many years later, Jim spoke of Bev very fondly, saying that his first marriage (which he never disclosed to his second wife) was "annulled, unfortunately, not long after we married, and that was really for the best". In 1986, dying of cancer, he and Barb (his third wife) traveled to Bradenton for the 40th reunion of Manatee High School's Class of 1946... and Barb indicated that there was still quite a spark between the two.
In September 1947, Jim enrolled at Emory University, where he was a member of Alpha Tau Omega. Unfortunately, he was forced to leave Emory at the conclusion of his sophomore year when his family's limited funds had been spent; he never earned a college degree.
He married his second wife, Sarah, in December 1956, and thus began a tumultuous marriage that lasted (on paper) just over seven years. Within a year, a son was born, and they moved from Birmingham to Largo, FL not long after. Jim and Sarah separated in December 1963, and divorced in March 1964. Another family member would recount that it seemed like Jim just wasn't yet ready to settle down and be a "family man".
Jim met his third wife, Barb, in Birmingham in the summer of 1964. She was an associate editor at the Birmingham News, which was remarkable in that hers was a position and role that very few women would have even been considered for in those days. Not long after a very short whirlwind romance, Jim's profession took him to Chicago, and he left having promised to call her. Months passed. When Jim finally did call, it was to ask her to come to Chicago - permanently. Barb abandoned a prized job, and took a chance on love. They eventually married and were together until his death in April 1987.
For the next 20+ years, Jim worked as an independent writer, focusing on construction and civil engineering-related projects, which took him across the U.S., and to Mexico, France, and Denmark.
Exceptionally intelligent, articulate, rigorously principled in his thinking, honest to a fault, and possessing a very dry and rapier wit, Jim was never at a loss for words. Over his life he owned a number of dogs, whom he loved and cared for like children. Jim was also very proud of his Scottish heritage, being a member of the Clan Gregor of Scotland. He had many life-long friends.
Lawson Magruder (1878 - 1938)
Athene McGarrity Magruder (1898 - 1998)
Beverley Gilchrist Norrie Holmes (1928 - 2009)
Barbara Ann Chambers Eggbeer (1932 - 2011)
Sarah Joan Smith Roche (1927 - 1998)*
Charles Lawson Magruder (1907 - 1963)**
James Magruder (1928 - 1987)
Cremated, Ashes scattered at sea.
Specifically: Bradenton Beach, Manatee County, Florida, USA (27d27m31.51s N, 82d41m50.28s W).
Created by: J
Record added: Aug 01, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 40151650
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Added: Feb. 24, 2014
"I hear ethereal whispers, persuasive, soft and still. Daughter, if you don't remember us, who will?" Author Unknown|
Added: Oct. 15, 2009