April 12, 1937 ~ April 13, 2020
James F. Mayer, age 83, of Hamden, passed away at his home surrounded by his family on April 13, 2020. Jim was born in Elizabeth, NJ on April 12, 1937, a son of the late John & Dorothy (Kirk) Mayer. Jim was predeceased by his beloved wife Bunny (Bernadette) Zeleski Mayer in 2016. He is survived by his daughters, Krista (Richard) Davis of Belding, MI, Kira (Craig) Barnes of Hamden, and Kendra (Jay Williams) LaTorraca of Bozrah; his son Kirk (Janet) Mayer of Waterbury; grandchildren Hannah & Elijah LaTorraca, Markus Burleigh, Jill & Jamie Yakushewich and Amanda & Nate Barnes; sisters Jacqueline (Don) VanOrden and Alyce (Gene) Cassidy; brother Robert Mayer; and many nieces & nephews. A 1959 graduate of Villanova University, Jim was a buyer of children's clothing for several companies over the years. Until 3 months ago he worked 3 days a week as sales associate for Ten Thousands Villages in New Haven - a job he started when he was 65. Jim has been a resident of Hamden since 1968, a member of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church and his area prayer group as well as a former member of the Flock of The Good Shepard prayer group in Cheshire. He enjoyed the birds and flowers in the park-like setting of his backyard. He volunteered regularly, taking people shopping or to doctor appointments. He forged many lifelong friendships. Everyone who met Jim loved him. He was a man of tremendous Catholic faith, easygoing, quick with a humorous reply and eager to teach you about his family's unique vocabulary. Nothing made him happier than when his friends at Ten Thousand Villages picked up his vernacular. He loved new adventures - a bus trip to New Hampshire to tour lighthouses, to New York to see FDR's home or to Vermont for leaf-peeping. He was able to visit Krista and Rick out in Michigan several times and just loved sitting on the patio with a cup of coffee or glass of wine (depending on the time of day) watching the waterfowl and all the happenings out on the lake. Much fun was had on several trips to NYC to catch a Broadway show and dinner with his life-long friend Gary Tackas and his family at their favorite restaurant. He was fortunate enough to visit his niece and her family in South Carolina a few years back with Krista and it was most definitely a trip to remember. He always said he had the best outlaws (our word for in-laws). He enjoyed a cocktail or two at day's end. He and Mom loved their gin martinis or Manhattans. He always scoured the mailers for the best wine-by-mail clubs and if a better deal could be had elsewhere, he'd switch in a heartbeat! Depending on the Sunday, it was either the Michigan update (which included side bar conversations with Rick, his F.A. - Financial Advisor), the Jersey City update or both. After he was talked out, he usually headed to a local theater to catch the latest movie release. Not a fan of sci-fi or 'bang-bang-shoot-em-up' movies as he'd called them, his tastes ran more toward period pieces, suspense thrillers or even foreign language films. He often snuck in his own snacks and once got busted for it! He looked forward to discussing them at periodic movie club meetings. He loved classical music and that was often the background to mundane daily tasks. He loved to dance and missed the times he and Mom would cut a rug more regularly. He's always listened to Big Band music every Saturday night and since Mom's passing in 2016, we referred to that night as 'crying night.' He would reminisce about her and all the fun times of their lives together. He took great pride in his home. Over the years he always kept up with the painting and yard work. A handyman he was not, but he had his crew of professionals who helped him make the most of his home. Every season brought a change of the tchotchkes. Kira and Craig helped him with this ever-increasing task. They transformed the house to spring before he came home from rehab. No one could make tacos better than Kirk and salads better than Kira. Comparatively speaking, Krista failed at these tasks during his visits to Michigan. The tacos were too dry and had the wrong shells, the salad didn't have grapes in it or the lunch meat was sliced too thick. When she added grapes to the salad, of course they were the wrong color grapes. He liked red grapes! The things ya learn! Every night in a gruff and growling voice, he'd ask Betty Crocker aka Kira, 'what's for supper?' He enjoyed his daily, dinner time conversations with Janet. He always enjoyed his visits with Kendra sitting on the porch, sipping numerous cocktails, chatting about life's ups and downs and he was always there for her and the kids, no matter what, her rock. When the grandchildren were younger the whole family dressed up for Halloween in a theme and Dad always participated. Themes included cereal characters (Quaker Oats Man), rock stars (Elton John), Nightmare Before Christmas (Dr. Finkelstein), Flintstones (Barney), Addams Family (Uncle Fester), Peanuts (Charlie Brown). He loved his kids, their spouses, his grandchildren and all of their friends. You know you have something special when the friends of your kids think of you as a second Dad and as such affectionately called him Pa. He became everyone's favorite old man.The circle of people who cared about him is as large as his love for them all. He was often surprised if someone told him about something he had done (that he had forgotten about) that had a major impact on their lives. He didn't make a big whoopie-do about things - he just quietly lead by example. Funeral and burial in Phoenixville, PA will be private due to our nation's pandemic. The graveside service will be on Facebook Live, Saturday, April 18 at approximately 12 noon. Dad would laugh at the prospect that his funeral could go viral. Arrangements are in care of BEECHER & BENNETT FUNERAL HOME, 2300 Whitney Ave, Hamden. In lieu of flowers, contributions in Jim's memory are asked to be made to the American Kidney Fund, www.kidneyfund.org or to the American Cancer Society at www.cancer.org.