1935 - 2012
"Jim, Touch the Stars!"
McCune was born on April 26, 1935 in Sweetwater, Texas to Lawrence
“Mac” and Esther McCune. The eldest of two brothers,
his early childhood was spent bouncing around between Texas and
New Mexico, before moving to LaJunta, Colorado. It was here that
he went to school and joined the Koshare Indian Dancing group
which traveled across the country performing authentic Native
American ceremonial dances.
Following high school, Jim went to Colorado University where
he earned his bachelors and masters degree in physics. While dedicated
to his education, he still managed to have some fun and mischief,
with escapades such as painting the Flatirons with his rock-climbing
crew. It was also while earning his Master’s that Jim took
a dance class just to get close to a girl he liked. Winning her
over, he and Gloria Rae Helart were married on August 1, 1964.
They spent a couple of years in Germany, working and traveling,
before settling in Long Beach, California and having a son Ian,
in 1970. While working for TRW, Jim had the opportunity to work
on some of the early deep space satellites such as “Pioneer”
and had always said that he wanted to make it into space some
day. While dedicated to his work, he was completely devoted to
his family; whether it be family vacations, playing games with
his son at all day swim meets, or just helping with homework (even
though his son may not have always appreciated the in-depth theory
behind the answers at the time).
Following retirement, Jim and Gloria spent time traveling and
visiting family, and taking classes together at Senior University.
Jim also found passion in teaching basic computer classes for
seniors through the university.
Diagnosed with cancer not long after learning of his daughter-in-law’s
pregnancy with twins, he simply said he would do whatever treatment
was necessary to make sure he was around to meet his granddaughters.
Always one to keep his promise, he held on long enough to celebrate
their first Christmas before passing away on January 27, 2012.
He leaves behind wife Gloria, son Ian, brother Michael, and granddaughters
Murphy and Madison.
It is difficult to sum up the life of a man in a few short paragraphs.
He grew up here, went to school there, did this and that….
Those words don’t accurately depict his thirst for knowledge,
or being reserved, but engaging to all those who knew him. Those
paragraphs don’t do justice to his sense of humor, responsibility,
self-sacrifice, or to the depth of his loyalty. And his story
can never fully convey the love that he had for those around him,
and the love that was felt towards him.
“The majority of us lead quiet, unheralded lives as we
pass through this world. There will most likely be no ticker-tape
parades for us, no monuments created in our honor. But that does
not lessen our possible impact, for there are scores of people
waiting for someone just like us to come along; people who will
appreciate our compassion, our unique talents. Someone who will
live a happier life merely because we took the time to share what
we had to give. Too often we underestimate the power of a touch,
a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or
the smallest act of caring, all of which have a potential to turn
a life around. It’s overwhelming to consider the continuous
opportunities there are to make our love felt.” - Leo Buscaglia
As his son, I feel fortunate that I never had to look further
than my dad to find a hero.