James Howard Menter Harrelson died in his Three Rivers home on Tuesday, July 4, 2017. He was 35.
A potluck celebration of his life will be held Sunday, July 23, 2- 6 p.m., at the home where he grew up: 41615 Sierra Drive, Three Rivers.
James lived a passionate and colorful life on his own terms. Born in Oakland, Calif., on October 30, 1981, his early years were joyful and energetic.
When he was three years old, he and his family emigrated to British Columbia, Canada, where they lived for seven years. There, he and his brother, Billy, loved to build forts and capture banana slugs, newts, and crayfish. He spent his first-grade year in a French-immersion school, then transferred to Bell Road Elementary School in Stave Falls, BC.
In 1990, the Harrelsons relocated to Three Rivers, and James was enrolled in fourth grade at Three Rivers Union School. His quick smile and outgoing nature helped him make friends quickly. James graduated eighth grade in 1996, attended Woodlake High School, and earned his GED.
After high school James lived with his girlfriend, Leah Schwarz, and her son, Adam. The family lived in Three Rivers, Monterey, and Chico. In 2006, they celebrated the birth of their daughter, Jasmine. Jasmine and Adam were the lights of James’s life.
James spent most of his adult life working as an independent contractor in construction, landscaping, and horticulture. A jack of all trades, he learned anything he set his mind to.
This included working as an air-conditioning specialist, gasoline truck driver in Chico from 2009 to 2011, and a long-haul truck driver from 2011 to 2013. He experimented with panhandling, then in 2014 he returned to Three Rivers, where he began to rebuild his life. He worked hard as a laborer/journeyman at Flora Bella Farm from 2015-2016 and in 2017 attended Pine Recovery Center in Visalia.
“Gums,” as his family called him, was a gifted tinkerer who loved taking apart electronics to see how they worked — and was usually able to fix any gadget given to him. He will be remembered for his intelligence, charisma, and brazen sense of humor.
James is survived by his parents, Janne Harlow and Howard Harrelson; his partner-in-parenting, Leah Schwarz; his daughter, Jasmine Harrelson; stepson Adam Schwarz; siblings Liz, Billy, and Robert Harrelson; and several aunts, uncles, and cousins.
Donations in James’s name may be made to Pine Recovery Center, 120 W. School St., Visalia, CA 93291.