James was born in Hell’s Kitchen, N.Y., on Aug. 5, 1927, and was raised in the Bronx as a devout Catholic by parents James and Margaret (Ahearn) Concannon whom James liked to mention were “middle school dropouts with a better education than anyone today.”
While a surgery patient at Columbia Presbyterian in New York City, James saw a nurse and told himself he would marry her one day. James pursued that nurse — Maureen — with his hallmark headstrong manner and, in 1967, married her.
In 1981, “sick of paying taxes to New York City, New York State, and New Jersey,” James moved his family to Laconia.
In New Hampshire, James worked as a child psychologist and maintained his love of music, playing trumpet in the Joe DeRose band. He was passionately committed to his children and became a fixture at their sporting events for many years. It was not uncommon to hear James’ booming voice offer a resounding difference of opinion with umpires and referees. His family was his greatest pride and joy and he never tired of bragging about them.
James loved big band jazz, Irish rebel music, concealed firearms, the New York Yankees, and explaining to people — especially Red Sox fans — why everything else stinks. All the water in the lakes of New Hampshire couldn’t wash the New York City off this city-boy, and he treasured regular conversations with lifelong friends from the old neighborhood. James loved people. He loved giving people a hard time, especially if they could give it back. He could elicit a telemarketer’s full biography over the course of an hour and never let them make their pitch. But he’d never forget their story. He was adored by those who knew him for his unstoppable sarcasm and sense of humor.
In his final days, James was only able to speak intermittently, but, disliking his medical gown, he made it a point to ask his family and nurses why they had to stick him in a “Polish tuxedo.” He got the laugh. And he doesn’t care if that offends you.
He was, in short, the best.
He is survived by his wife of 45 years, Maureen; children Cathleen and her husband, Christopher Fields, Sean, James and his wife, Christine, and Daniel; his beloved grandchildren, Patrick, Brendan, Kelsey, Ryan, Molly, Macey, Jack, and expectant twin boys; as well as nieces Anne-Marie and Margaret Nelson and nephews Lenny and Jimmy Nelson.
He was predeceased by his brother Peter, sister Aileen, and nephew Peter Nelson. James graduated from Cardinal Hayes High School, attended Julliard and the City College of New York, and earned his doctorate from St. John’s University.
He will be missed, loved, adored, and quoted always. See you later, Pop. “Not if I see you first!”
There will be a calling hour from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. on Monday, June 18, in the Carriage House of the Wilkinson-Beane-Simoneau Paquette Funeral Home, 164 Pleasant St., Laconia.
A Mass of Christian Burial will follow the calling hour at 11 a.m. at St. Andre Bessette Parish, St. Joseph Church, 30 Church St., Laconia.
Burial will follow in St. Lambert Cemetery, Laconia.
Wilkinson-Beane-Simoneau-Paquette Funeral Home & Cremation Services, 164 Pleasant St., Laconia, is assisting the family with the arrangements. For more information and to view an online memorial, go to www.wilkinsonbeane.com.