Captain Nathaniel “Nat” Willis James III, obituary

Posted:  Friday, March 8, 2019 - 12:15pm
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SCARBOROUGH & VINALAVEN- Captain Nathaniel “Nat” Willis James III passed away on Tuesday, February 26 at his recent home, Piper Shores, just four days shy of his 103rd birthday.  Nat was born in Baltimore, Maryland on March 2, 1916, one of two children born to Beatrice May Howland and Nathaniel Willis James Jr.

Nat spent his early years in Baltimore and then Annapolis, MD.  He attended the Gilman School, the Severn School, graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1939, the Harvard Business School in 1951, and the U.S. Naval War College in 1958.  Nat loved playing lacrosse and was 1st Team All American goalie for Navy in 1938 and 1939.  After graduation from the Naval Academy his first assignment was on the battleship USS MISSISSIPPI, followed by multiple assignments with the Navy Supply Corps.

Nat met his future wife, Alexandra “Alix” Austin, at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island.  Alix Austin was the daughter of Isabella Leith and Vice Admiral Bernard “Count” Lige Austin, a distinguished and decorated Naval officer.  They were married in Annapolis at the U.S. Naval Academy Chapel on September 8th, 1951.  Nat and Alix welcomed six children into their family while living on various Naval assignments in Hawaii, Rhode Island, Cuba, Virginia and finally back in Annapolis.

In 1976 Nat and Alix moved to their summer home on the island of Vinalhaven, located in Penobscot Bay on the coast of Maine.  Nat worked as the manager of the Fox Island Electric Coop, where he was instrumental in transitioning Vinalhaven and North Haven’s electrical source from a self-generation facility to under-sea electrical cables.

Nat and Alix loved their peaceful life on Vinalhaven including; their relationship with the community, their garden, and their beautiful property on Arey’s Cove.  Through the years they became respected and adored members of the island community.  Nat held the title as the oldest living member of the island for many years prior to his passing.

Nat’s family and friends remember Nat for his many strong and endearing qualities including; his warm laugh and witty sense of humor, his appreciation for a cold beer at lunch and small glass of Scotch before dinner, his love of nature and gardening, and his tolerance for Alix’s pets.

But most of all, his six children remember their father as a man of strong and purposeful values.  In his own words, there was no grey area, there was only right and wrong.  Nat always chose the right path.  His children recall there was never an instance when they questioned their father’s judgment or decision.  He was firm but fair, and there was never any negotiating.  He was a true gentlemen to his very core, and he was always thoughtful about those around him.

Nat cherished his wife Alix, his family of six children and seventeen grandchildren, and his Catholic faith.  He lived his life exactly as he wanted and enjoyed each and every day.  His six children are celebrating a life well lived.

Nat’s passing is preceded by his parents, his sister, Beatrice Teel, and his wife Alix James.  He is survived by his six children; Dr. Nathaniel W. James IV and wife Dr. Donna Greenwood of Scarborough, Maine, Arabella Eldredge and husband John Eldredge of Brunswick, Maine, Alexandra Gray and husband David Gray of Middletown, Rhode Island, Beatrice Logan and husband John Logan of Cape Elizabeth, Maine, Austin James and wife Lynn James of Vinalhaven, Maine and Robert James and wife Jennifer James of New York, New York, as well as his seventeen grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

A funeral service will be held on June 29 on Vinalhaven, ME, followed by a burial at Brown’s Head cemetery.

Condolences may be shared with the family at www.longfuneralhomecamden.com.   Arrangements are with the Long Funeral Home & Cremation Service, 9 Mountain Street, Camden.