James Russell Gunsalus died of COVID-19 Wednesday, January 20, 2021. He was married for almost sixty years to Ann Louise King. They lived in East Orleans for twenty seven years and had formerly resided in Larchmont, NY.
Jim was born in Albany, NY on July 16, 1935 to Catherine Louise Gates and Paul Overton Gunsalus. He had two older sisters – the late Suzanne Gunsalus Bakken (Richard) of North Pole, AK and Dr. Catherine Gunsalus González (Justo) of Decatur, GA. Jim was baptized at the Westminister Presbyterian Church in Albany, NY and lived his early years in Delmar, NY.
Jim spent summers growing up at the Cyrus Gates Homestead in Maine, NY which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. While summering there in 1945 he contracted polio. Although he missed a year of school, it did not stunt his growth as he was 6’ 5” tall. On his mother’s side of the family he is a direct descendant of Mayflower passengers John Tilly, Bridget (Ann) Tilly, Elizabeth Tilly, John Howland, Richard Warren and Edward Fuller. His mother was a member of DAR. Although mostly English, through DNA testing Jim discovered the genesis of the GUNSALUS name as he is 20% Swedish.
Jim was confirmed at the Larchmont Avenue Presbyterian Church and graduated from Mamaroneck High School in Mamaroneck, NY. He was on the varsity basketball team, a member of the Order of DelMolay and was active in the youth group at Larchmont Ave. Church. Jim attended Layfayette College. He was in the U.S. Army for two years at the Nike Missile Base in the Baltimore-Washington Defense Area. He graduated from Boston University with a BA in History and Government. Jim had a long career with NY Telephone Co. and NYNEX. His last position was Director of Labor Relations for NYNEX. He enjoyed years of bridge on the New Haven Railroad as he commuted to and from NYC.
Jim and Ann were long time members of the Larchmont Yacht Club, the Larchmont Community Chorus and the Larchmont Avenue Church where they were Superintendents of the Sunday School. Jim served on the Session and was head of the Board of Trustees. He held positions for many years on the Conservation Committee of the Town of Mamaroneck. He coached the LAC Presbyterian basketball team and coached Little League while his sons participated. Jim was a loyal GIANTS fan all his life. He enjoyed a 12 mile Boy Scout canoe trip through the Adirondacks with his son Eric.
While on Cape Cod, Jim played in a men’s bridge group and enjoyed FADO and being president of his beloved Nauset Heights. He was head of the Stewardship and Local Missions Committees at the Federated Church of Orleans. Jim was an avid reader and loved computer games. He and Ann traveled with Cape Cod friends many times to Europe. They also spent time in Longboat Key, FL, the Caribbean and Alaska.
Jim leaves three sons and one daughter-in-law – Eric James Gunsalus of East Orleans, MA, Curtis John Gunsalus and Katherine Sands Gunsalus of Longboat Key, FL and East Orleans, MA, and William Paul Gunsalus of East Orleans, MA. He is survived by four grandchildren: Connor Gates Gunsalus, Brooke Christina Gunsalus, Christopher King Gunsalus, and Lakota Ivory Gunsalus as well as step grandsons: Luke Frank Safly and Benjamin Blake Safly.
A celebration of Jim’s life will be held when we are free of the coronavirus. In lieu of flowers, donations in Jim’s memory may be made to the Federated Church of Orleans, P.O. Box 761, East Orleans, MA 02643. For online condolences, please visit Nickerson Funeral Home website.