James Phillip McGahan, of St. Simons Island, passed peacefully to his heavenly home on Feb. 19, 2017, one day after his 81st birthday. During his life he shared his faith through laughter and joy, as he encouraged countless others.
He was born on Feb. 18, 1936, in Jacksonville, Fla., to Jim and Marie McGahan. When his father graduated from Cornell with a degree in horticulture, he and Marie moved south from Troy, N.Y., becoming the first wholesale florist south of the Mason Dixon line in the 1920s. Jim grew up helping his dad in the greenhouses and delivering flowers.
His family moved to Ponte Vedra in the 1940s, becoming the 13th household in that area. It was there that Jim developed a love for the beach.
He graduated from Bolles Military Academy in 1955, where he lettered in basketball, baseball, track and football, the latter becoming his lifelong passion and taking him to Auburn on a football scholarship. While there, he spent several summers traveling with Bill Glass to start FCA chapters throughout the South.
Jim went on to play for the Colts for a few seasons before deciding he was more suited to sales than the NFL.
Moving back to Jacksonville, he began working for an Italian office equipment company, Olivetti, that had just expanded to the U.S. His aptitude for sales as well as his knack for recognizing others with the same talent moved him in a managerial position all over the United States to New Orleans, Fort Worth, Denver, Kansas City, and finally to their headquarters in New York City, where he survived through two seasons of the harsh winters.
He moved back to the South and joined another “start up” company, Xerox, where he became “Rookie of the Year” before heading up the Xerox Learning Systems Division in the Atlanta area. His last career was in the hardwood floor covering wholesale business, finishing up with Custom Wholesale Floors, headquartered in Jacksonville.
Jim was predeceased by both his parents, Jim and Marie; and his oldest daughter, Allison.
He is survived by his wife Jill, children, Marie Mitchell (Lee) of Atlanta, Ga., whom he had with his first wife Martha, Hurley Schombert (Branden) of Kansas City and Ryan of Charleston; two sisters, Phyllis Stoddard of Fernandina, Fla., and Ann Day of Cincinnati, Ohio; as well as one precious grandson, Hunter, born to Marie.
Jim was active in the Kairos prison ministry where he developed oftentimes a lifelong relationship with some of the prisoners he touched. One of them, Keithian Starling, went on to start his own ministry to help released inmates adjust to life outside the confines of prison. For 11 years he assisted in feeding men for the Thursday morning men’s prayer breakfast at St. Simons Presbyterian Church, as well as serving as a greeter helping with parking for over 10 years with The Gathering Place.
Lastly, Jim was an original member of Saint Simons Community Church which he dearly loved and was active for many years, co-leading the Starting Point class, a homegroup, and upon retirement starting the transport ministry to assist the elderly and infirm to doctor appointments.
The family would like to thank Dr. Mitchell Jones for his compassionate care throughout Jim’s many illnesses as well as Dr. Chitty who attended him during his final days at Southeast Georgia Health System. In addition, we appreciate Jason Foskey at Edo Miller who has graciously assisted the family in the final arrangements.
The memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. today at St. Simons Community Church.
The family has requested memorial contributions be made to Grace Prison Ministries, P.O. Box 171052, Nashville, TN 37217.