Obituary: Tait, Msgt, Usaf, James R.
TAIT, James R., MSGT, USAF (Age 76) Died peacefully at Hospice House in Spokane, WA, December 20, 2012, after a brief bout with lung cancer, He was born February 28, 1936, in Deadwood, SD to Robert and Viola Whitney Tait. In 1941, he moved with his family to Selma, AL where his father’s family lived. While attending school in Selma, James worked for Barton’s Department Store and Cloverleaf Creamery where he made ice cream. He graduated from Albert G. Parrish High School in Selma in 1954. After working for a year on his family’s plantation, he enlisted in the U. S. Air Force and completed basic training at Lackland A.F.B., TX. He then volunteered for Rescue and Survival training and was transferred to Stead A.F.B., Reno, NV, where he met his future wife, Dorothy Thompson. While stationed at Stead, he was involved in training the “original 7” astronauts, including Neil Armstrong and John Glenn. In 1963, he was transferred to the Tropical Survival School (USAFSO) Albrook A.F.B., Canal Zone, Panama where he taught jungle survival techniques to flight crews being sent into Vietnam. In 1965, he was transferred back to Stead A.F.B. and in 1966, was selected to help establish the Survival School at Fairchild A.F.B., Spokane, WA. In 1968, he was transferred to PAC-AF Jungle Survival School in the Philippines Islands. In 1970, he transferred to Wright-Patterson A.F.B., Dayton, OH, where he worked in Testing and Research for NASA. While in OH he worked with the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts and helped establish a Senior Scout troop. In 1976, he transferred back to Fairchild A.F.B. and continued teaching survival training until his retirement in 1978. After retirement, he completed a Degree of Bachelor of Science; a Degree of Master of Public Administration and a Degree of Business Administration, all from City University in Spokane, WA. In 1991, Dorothy also retired from her job so she and Jim could travel around the country in their 5th wheel RV, going places and seeing things they didn’t have time to explore when moving from one Air Force base to another. They enjoyed their adventures until health issues forced them to “retire”, once again, to home. James is survived by his wife of 56 years; son, William and daughter, Missie (Darrell) McDowell both of Spokane; a daughter Kathy (Bruce) Parkes of San Antonio, TX; grandchildren: Christina (Josh) Freeman; Daniel, Thomas and Matthew McDowell all of Spokane; Sarah (Jason) Erschabek of Richland, TX; Jill Parkes of Austin, TX; and four great grandchildren; sisters: Roberta Adang of Columbia City, IN; Margaret Adams of Mobile, AL; brothers: Thomas (Hattie) Tait of Fayetteville, GA; Robert (Eileen) Tait of Valrica, FL; and many nieces and nephews. Heritage Funeral Home and Crematory will be in charge of cremation. Remains will be placed in a Columbarium Niche at the State Veteran’s Cemetery in Medical Lake, WA. A Memorial Service will be held on January 3, 2012 at 11:15 at the Washington State Veterans Cemetery, 21702 W. Espanola Road, Medical Lake, WA 99022. Memorial contributions may be made to Hospice of Spokane, 121 S. Arthur, P.O. Box 2215 Spokane, WA 99210-2215 or the State Veteran’s Cemetery, 21702 W. Espanola Road, Medical Lake, WA 99022.