Jim Buell

Obituary of Jim Buell

Jim Buell, retired City Manager of Jackson, headed for the hills in the early morning hours of Saturday, April 1, 2023 - exactly how he liked to start any trip - before the sun rose so that he could beat the traffic. He was 1 month shy of his 9oth birthday.


For those that knew Jim, most would agree that he was larger than life. He had a presence that commanded the room, and his laugh was booming. He loved to get a rise out of people, but he was also an excellent listener and thoughtful conversationalist. Jim had a remarkable ability to connect with just about anyone and his knowledge of any subject seemed to be infinite.


Jim Graduated from Mount Diablo High School in 1951 where he was active in the Boy Scouts, swimming and proudly participated as Head Yell Leader (aka: cheerleader) during his senior year. He went on to get his BA in Political Science and a master’s in public administration from Golden Gate University, San Francisco. After college he was working as a surveyor for Contra Costa County before being drafted into the US Navy, where he served as Chief Battalion Officer for a group of 85 men. He then spent 2 years (1956-1958) in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos surveying and mapping the land so that they could do strategic planning for military movements. After being honorably discharged in 1959 Jim resumed his education and career in City Planning and Management in various Bay Area cities. He ended up accepting a position with the City of Jackson in 1982 as their City Manager- a position that he worked tirelessly at, always pushing for educational opportunities, strategic growth, and increased quality of life for the community. After his retirement he worked for the U.S. State Department, where he spent several months in Romania helping them set up their new government, a position that fulfilled his love of travel, adventure, and teaching.


Jim's passions outside of work were designing and building various home projects and he could often be found busily drawing plans for the next home improvement.  He loved puttering around the property almost as much as he loved a donut and was always looking for a helping hand. In fact, his favorite greeting to anyone visiting the house was "did you bring your gloves?". Watching his kids and their friends squirm with resistance to this question gave him great joy.


When he wasn't working at maintaining his property, he loved to play tennis, hike, and ride his horse, Nacho, who he had raised, and bottle fed from birth. The two of them had a special bond and spent over 30 years exploring the mountains of California as well as serving as volunteers for the Mounted Search & Rescue Team. One of Jim's favorite places to be was in the backcountry of the Sierras and although he was not a religious man, he considered the high granite peaks his church. He was an explorer at heart.



Jim was also very involved in the community of Jackson. He was an active member of the local Lions Club for over 35 years and served on the annual Scholarship Committee for most of those, which he absolutely loved. He was always so impressed by the young people submitting applications and was so proud of the things people were doing to continue their education. He was also dedicated to his morning coffee group, which met Monday thru Friday at Hein & Co for a good ole gossip session. He always said "If you don't show up then you are on the menu and so without fail, at 9am, off he would go. Even in his last days he was saying how he planned to "get his butt out of bed and down to coffee" but sadly he wouldn't be able to make it for one last chat with his longtime friends.


After Jim separated from his wife of 35 years, Karen, he met Vineta Eubank who became his partner and was with him until the end. What might seem strange to many was the fact that Jim, Vineta and Karen remained very good friends and lived next door to each other.  This made family gatherings easy with plenty of room for everyone.


His last 3 months were tough. A fast decline left him unable to live the life he always had, and yet was filled with the opportunity to reconnect with some of his family in ways that had not happened in a long time, and for that his remaining family are grateful.


Jim Buell is survived by his partner, Vineta Eubank; his wife, Karen Buell; his children, Jim Buell Jr, Janine Crozier, Denise Buell, John Buell, and Jennifer Buell; as well as his younger sister, Karla Allen and her 3 children as well as 12 grandkids and 13great-grandkids...plus a few ex-wives. His son, Steve Buell, preceded him in death many years ago. His incredible bear hugs and booming laugh will be deeply missed but his infamous and legacy bearing Oreo dunking techniques will live on forever. RIP James Mason Buell. We love you.

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