James Walter MacLaughlin, 82, of Fernandina Beach, Florida, passed away on September 16, 2020. Jim, the son of Jane and Walter MacLaughlin, was born and grew up the oldest of four children in suburban Philadelphia. He graduated from Upper Darby High School, where he was a varsity wrestler.
At Penn State University, he studied, found brotherhood at Sigma Nu, and cheered on the Nittany Lions football team. He graduated in 1959 with a B.S. in Math and Science. In State College, PA, he met the love of his life, Lesley Mae Hassis. Lesley and Jim were married on March 1, 1958.
After college, Jim spent time as a teacher before finding his true calling in sales. He excelled as a salesman, landing at Champion International Paper Company, where he spent the rest of his career. Jim helped many young men and women develop in sales, as both their mentor and friend. During his time with Champion, he moved his family from Philadelphia to Atlanta. Upon retirement in 2000, Jim and Lesley moved to Key West, Florida. After five years, they settled in Fernandina Beach.
Jim remained a life-long Penn State and Philadelphia sports fan, a lover of dogs, and an avid Gin Rummy player. As a hunter, fisher and golfer, he enjoyed the ocean, beautiful weather, and wildlife of Fernandina. Jim was a great entertainer — everyone was welcome in his and Lesley’s home for a celebration or a family meal. They were blessed with many wonderful friends and neighbors.
In work and in life, Jim suffered no fools. He held his views strongly and never allowed himself or those he loved to be taken advantage of.
He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Lesley, his children, Martha Harris (husband James), Lauri MacLaughlin, Mark MacLaughlin (wife Elizabeth), Scott MacLaughlin (wife Caitlin), Jay MacLaughlin (wife Amanda), and Jennifer Merrill (husband Brad),14 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren. Surviving family includes brother Jon MacLaughlin and sisters Jean Frey and Jo Charles. He remained close, throughout his life, with a large extended family in the Philadelphia area.
The family will be hosting a celebration of his life at a future time. Donations can be made in Jim’s honor to the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation’s Mission: Iconic Reefs (marinesanctuary.org/mission-iconic-reefs) OR to Friends of Trees (https://friendsoftrees.org).