James H. Whitcomb ’48

James H. Whitcomb ’48 died on March 12, 2024, in Naples, Florida.

(The following was provided by legacy.com on March 20, 2024:)

James H. Whitcomb ’48

James (Jim) Whitcomb, Sr., a loving husband and father of three surviving children, died on March 12, 2024, at the age of 96 in Naples, Florida.

In many ways Jim personified the American dream. He was born on June 12, 1927, in Farmington, Maine, to Edwin and Alice McLaughlin Whitcomb. His family struggled during the Depression, so Jim worked hard at school and at various jobs to build a better life. He entered Bowdoin College at 16, completing his studies in 1948 after serving in the Navy during World War II. His intense work ethic and ample common sense propelled him through an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1952 and management positions at Time Inc. and NW Ayer Advertising. Jim then spent a highly successful thirty-year career at General Foods, where he rose from product manager to president of Europe, president of Latin America, and president of International Trade. International postings took him from White Plains, NY to Tokyo, Sydney, Banbury (UK), Brussels, and back to New York.

Jim was a loving husband and father to his family. He met Eleanor (Ello) Keady while performing with the Business School’s acapella group, ‘The Tycoons,’ during her senior year at Vassar College. They were married in 1952 and had four children. As a father, Jim called for diligence at school and discouraged any sense of entitlement. He retained ‘Down East’ sensibilities that shunned pretention and extravagance. He demanded respect for elders, but also showed a cheerful sense of humor and obvious joy in his time spent with family. Together they visited many exotic locations around the world. He enjoyed golf, reading history, listening to acapella music, and forging strong bonds with a core group of lifelong friends. Some of his favorite times were spent sailing his boat in Sydney harbor with family and antiquing in the Cotswolds; his tenor voice was still strong as he sang “When I Grow Too Old to Dream” months before he died.

Jim’s life was largely happy and successful, but he did encounter tragedy: the early deaths of his son, Andrew, in 1980, and his wife, Ello, in 1988. However, Jim met Camille Grimes Henderson in New Canaan, Connecticut,¬†and they married in 1992. They spent many happy years in Hobe Sound and later Naples, Florida, where Jim remained an engaged father and grandfather.
Jim is survived by Camille, by his children Susan, Jim, and Michael, by eight grandchildren, and by six great-grandchildren.

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