James Walton Goss passed away quietly at the end of the afternoon of Sunday, June 23, 2019. He leaves behind his wife of 65 years Arlene Kingma Goss; his four children: Jan Warner, Jill Wadsworth and her husband Jeff, Karl Goss and his wife Annette, and Kenneth Goss and his wife Martine; and his sisters: Betty Haver and Pat Kinsell.
He was immensely proud of his seven grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. A wide group of relations, friends and associates whose lives he touched through his great heart, his humor, his fierce loyalty, and eagerness to help, will miss him.
Jim was born August 26, 1930 in Remington, Indiana. He was the third child of Frank and Edna Goss, preceded by his sisters Betty and Pat. The premature loss of Frank Goss in 1946, and rural farm life, forced the family to learn how to fend without him. Many have heard the hair-raising story of Jim installing electricity at the family's farmhouse when power lines reached Remington.
After graduating from Remington High, Jim married his high school sweetheart Arlene, and they moved to Lafayette, Indiana. He attended Purdue, studying Agronomy under an Army ROTC scholarship, graduating, and being commissioned in 1956. During his school years, the family grew through the births of Jan and Jill.
His military service had him serving in the 423rd regiment, 3rd battalion, based in Muncie, Indiana. Following his honorable discharge, Jim attended the University of Arizona for a Master’s Degree in Agricultural Engineering. Returning to the Midwest, the family lived for a period in Hartford City, Indiana where Karl was born, and then Northbrook, Illinois, where Kenneth was born. Making use of his agricultural degrees, Jim worked for companies making paper and fertilizers.
His career took the family to the South, first to Louisiana, in Jena and then Monroe. Moving to work for Pennzoil in Houston, the family started its multi-generational stay in Texas. Retirement and relaxation did not come naturally to Jim, and retirement from one career frequently led to a new career. From Pennzoil, he moved on to companies working to develop large scale real estate projects in Houston and St. Louis, to being a general construction contractor.
At Northwoods Presbyterian Church in Houston, Jim was a fixture of the building management team. He was also a frequent member of the church's volunteer teams that went to Mexico helping a small town to build public facilities and develop their water supply. Since childhood, travel had been a fascination for Jim, with a National Geographic subscription feeding a lengthy bucket list of destinations.
His career had given him all the frequent flyer miles he could use, and he set out to nibble away at his list. A daring traveler, he saw East Berlin before the Wall came down, Russia shortly after the Wall, and China shortly after Tiananmen Square. In more conventional fashion he also saw many parts of the U.S. and Europe.
Moving to Waxahachie, TX, to be closer to family, Jim became a co-founder of Waxahachie Architectural Salvage, and finally an artisan crafting beehives and flower boxes. He also found an outlet for his craftsman skills in building Little Free Libraries and Pantries, so communities could share books and foods with neighbors.
He joined the Master Gardeners, helping to develop the Butterfly Garden on the Hike and Bike Trail. Unable to rest when there were things to be done, Jim was a relentless volunteer, for his family, his friends, his co-workers, and his church. If you knew Jim, chances are he helped you with a project, whether restoring a house, building a fence, or installing a church playground. No project was too big or too small, and he would be the first person to start, the last to leave, and would insist on doing the hardest work. With Central Presbyterian Church in Waxahachie, despite being in his 80's, Jim continued to be a vigorous volunteer, helping to maintain the church building and grounds, supporting the Bethlehem Revisited environment, and working on the Church's new Fellowship Park.
The illness that finally took Jim's life had to fight tooth and nail against his spirit and strength, he hung on desperately, talking to the end of projects and finding solutions.