Obituary: James Schell, 73, formerly of Darien

James Schell, 73, of Siesta Key, Florida, (formerly Darien, CT), found peace in heaven on March 17th after a long health struggle. He died right where he wanted — in the loving arms of his wife of 51 years Susan O’Laughlin Schell.

He was born and raised in Chicago by his hard working parents Frank and Shirley Schell. As an only child, Jim’s sense of family grew when he married into the large, fun, wild Irish O’Laughlin clan. It is fitting that this man who was raised by tough Norwegian parents from Minnesota died on St. Patrick’s day.

Jim is also survived by his three grateful and loving children, their spouses and 9 absolutely perfect grandchildren. Kari and Dan O’Donnell with Regan, Maggie, Jack and Healy of Cohasset, MA. Mike and Brooke (Sobel) Schell with Rowan and Dalton of San Francisco, CA. Ryan and Mary (McDonnell) Schell with Andrew, Baker and Kate of Memphis, TN.

Jim graduated from Loyola Academy in Chicago in 1962 then graduated from Vanderbilt University before admissions required a perfect SAT and straight As. By age 24 Jim had an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis, a wife and a new child. He spent the majority of his working career in consumer finance at Chrysler and American Express. Jim and Sue spent their early family years in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan then 35 years in Darien where a wide circle of loving friends became their extended family. Jim was loyal beyond measure to these friendships. Despite having the ugliest golf swing out there, Jim loved time on the course at Wee Burn or The Founder’s club with his buddies and wasn’t afraid to tell grown men that he loved them.

Jim served others with his volunteer work at the Darien YMCA, Girls Inc. Sarasota, and MOAT Aquarium but mostly in his small daily gestures to anyone around him. His warm smile and genuine interest in others was apparent to those who knew him or met him for the first time.

Jim loved blue bird ski days, a deep tan, shopping at CostCo, vintage Neil Diamond, 3 foot gimme putts and rare cheeseburgers. He was a lifelong boat owner and in his youth had exceptional water skiing skills. He loved rehabbing dead orchids, DIY house projects and any day with sunshine. He traveled extensively and saw much of our beautiful world. There wasn’t a country left on his personal bucket list. In recent years, his favorite travel was to Boston, Memphis or San Francisco to spend time with his children and their growing families.

Nothing gave him more pleasure, joy or pride than these 15 people who affectionately called him Bucka. Jim’s greatest gift to his children was an example of a loyal, loving, faith-filled marriage to his wife Sue. They met at a high school prom and although they arrived with different dates, they were loyal to each other from each day forward. Jim concluded this life with a beautiful new relationship with God and was grateful to Father Michael Cannon from St. Michael the Archangel in Sarasota for his spiritual reawakening.

In lieu of flowers, donations can me made in Jim’s name to Girl’s Inc. Sarasota, 201 S. Tuttle Avenue, Sarasota, FL 34237.

A full celebration of life will be held on May 18th, at 11am, at Wee Burn Country Club. Jim’s life was one to celebrate — please join us in your bright colored polos!