James Craig McLaughlin, 80, died Sunday, Feb. 9 in Reno, Nev. following a long battle with cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
He was born in Stockton, the son of John F. and Imelda Burke McLaughlin. He grew up in Oakdale. He was student body president of Oakdale High School, 1950-1951.
Mr. McLaughlin served four years in the U.S. Air Force.
He attended Modesto Junior College and UC Davis. He married Virginia Miller in Modesto on Sept. 12, 1959. He earned his B.S. from UC Davis in 1960.
He worked a year for the Soil Conservation Service and then for the UC Davis Ag Experiment Station from 1962 to l967. He did all the field work surveying and mapping the agricultural soils in Humboldt, Del Norte, and Western Stanislaus counties, plus wrote the published soil maps and detailed reports of that work. In 1967, he and his family moved to Quincy with the U.S. Forest Service, where he was District Soil Scientist for the Plumas National Forest until 1980. During those years he acquired his M.S in Soil, Water, and Air from University of Nevada, Reno in 1974.
In 1980, he became the District Soil Scientist for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Eugene, Ore. In 1985 he transferred to Reno as Nevada State Soil Scientist for the BLM. He also took on many of the duties of State Hydrologist. He retired in 1995.
Along with his professional skills, he had a lifelong love of working with his hands in carpentry and cabinet-making and construction. He remodeled many homes, built furniture, and ultimately drew the plans and built the family home with the help of the whole family and good friends. The home has been a hub for family and friends since 1987.
After his retirement, he volunteered for several years as a carpenter for Habitat for Humanity. He helped build four Habitat homes and was awarded the “Golden Hammer Award” in 1995.
His legacy to his family and friends is his belief in God, his honesty and courage, his love of family and friends, his delight in the beauty of the earth, his many talents, sense of humor, and the million songs in his heart that he loved to sing.
He is survived by his wife, Virginia; children, Kelly McLaughlin, Tim (Alisa) McLaughlin, Ann McLaughlin; sister, Maryann Petro; sister-in-law, Ruth McLaughlin; grandchildren, James, Henry, Ruby (Richard), Molly, Tara, Amber, Lily (Lee), Devin, Buckley, Cody; and great-granddaughters, Annah, Eva, Ellie, Aralyn.
A memorial service was held on Feb. 16 at Foothills Church of Christ, Reno, Nev.
In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be sent in his name to Habitat for Humanity in Reno, Nev.; or to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, where he participated in a clinical study that extended his life for over seven years with professional and compassionate monitoring.
The Oakdale (Calif.) Leader
Feb. 19, 2014