James Lee Edwards | TahoeDailyTribune.com

James Lee Edwards

1927 ~ 2017

James Lee Edwards, 89, died peacefully on September 8, 2017, surrounded by his family.

He was born in 1927 in the Presidio of San Francisco at Letterman General Hospital and enlisted in the Army Air Force for the final years of World War II, a period of time that would end up fascinating him for the rest of his life. He traveled frequently, around the world with his family, to see war museums, WWII airplanes, and even the beaches of Normandy. He most loved the fighter plane, the Bell P-39 Airacobra.

James and his younger brother Don were raised at Fort Winfield Scott, part of the Presidio of San Francisco. In the early years, they lived next to Crissy Field on the bay. As children, they grew up watching the Golden Gate Bridge being built as they played on the beaches of Fort Winfield Scott. He attended Madison Grammar School, Marina Junior High School, Lowell High School and finally Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley.

As a student, he was an outstanding all-around track star for Lowell High School.He later set a North Bay League record in the 440-yard dash in 1945 while running for Tamalpais High School. He went on to run track and play football for the College of Marin.

James lived in the San Francisco Bay Area through the 1950s and moved in 1963 to South Lake Tahoe. He operated motels, including the Blue Lake Motel with his wife Jonna and then the Lampliter Motel with his brother Don and his sister-in-law Kay. He also worked as a bus driver for South Lake Tahoe Unified School District and, along with his best friend Bill Margolis, they took students visiting from other countries on bus tours of the western U.S. During his 70s, he drove a fire bus that carried firefighters into the Sierra Nevada forests to fight wildfires. When he retired, James volunteered as a driver to transport veterans to the VA hospital in Reno.

What James cherished above all was his family, animals, cars, and sports, notably his beloved San Francisco 49ers and the Cal teams. He was an avid World War II history buff, in part because his father, who was stationed at Fort Winfield Scott for 21 years, served in Africa and Italy during the war.

He is survived by his daughters, Teya, Jennifer, and Jaimy, his wife, Jonna, his grandchildren, James, Aidan, Sarah, Kai, and Maye, his sons-in-law, David and Matt, his brother Don and Don's family, Kay, LeeAnne, Kristen, and Brian. They will miss his gentle, teasing, and always loving spirit.

He was beloved by all who knew him, people and animals alike, for his ability to put everyone at ease, to be kind, and to share in his overwhelming generosity.

James will be buried at the Presidio, with his parents, Ruth and Herschel Edwards.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in his name to the Best Friends Animal Society and the James Wishful Walkers, which is raising funds for type 1 diabetes research in the name of his grandson. JDRF Reno is located at 645 Sierra Rose Drive, #106., 89511

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