In Memoriam: James Jonathan Mooney
James Jonathan Mooney, son of Robert Daniel Mooney Sr., of Davidson, North Carolina, died Wednesday, June 10 at his home in Los Angeles County, California. Members of his family were able to be with him. He was 101 years old.
James was born February 6, 1919 in Davidson, the youngest of nine children born to Gertrude Minerva Henderson and Robert Daniel Mooney. He was raised in a two-story house that his father built; a house that he says was moved from a high-rent area to a low rent area. (It was really just around the corner.) He milked the family cow before going to school in the morning, and again before going out at night.
James, or Jim, attended Davidson High School (graduated 1936) and Davidson College and graduated with the class of 1941. He received a teaching credential because all his sisters were teachers. He taught science briefly at Griffith High School in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, before moving to Washington, D.C., for a summer job that turned into a 9-year position with the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Standards, and where he met his future wife, Barbara Jean Grothe. During World War II, both Jim and Barbara worked in the quartz crystal research laboratory at the Bureau. The crystals they worked with, and materials made from them, were used by the armed services in field radios, radar, and other electronic communication equipment during World War II. Because he worked the “graveyard” shift, he and Barbara had to meet for breakfast dates. He married Barbara Jean Grothe on January 20, 1945, in Burlington, Iowa, and they were married for over 70 years.
In 1951, James was transferred from Washington D.C. to Corona, California and he and Barbara, with their then three children, moved to Riverside, California where they lived until 1955. In 1955 he began work at Bendix Aviation Corporation, Pacific Division, as Coordinating Engineer, and retired about thirty years later in 1981 as a Financial Manager. In 1955 he moved his growing family to Van Nuys in the San Fernando Valley, California, where he resided for 50-plus years. Although he was raised as a Southern Baptist, James converted to Catholicism to marry Barbara, and he later became a member of the Knights of Columbus, Van Nuys Council 3148. He regularly attended and put seven children through St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Church and Grammar School in Van Nuys, California. All seven children also attended St. Genevieve High School in Panorama City, California.
Jim and Barb were life-long travelers. They traveled extensively in the United States in their three motor homes over the years, visiting family across the country. In addition, they visited Mexico (Baja and mainland), Canada, England, Spain, Portugal, France, and the Baltics. They were known to take a cruise every now and then, travelling to the Caribbean and the Panama Canal Zone. Jim also loved to play bridge and he was an avid genealogist. Upon retirement, he began research into his family’s roots, eventually tracing the North Carolina Mooney’s back several generations to their origins in Swiss-Germany in the 1600’s.
James was preceded in death by his wife, Barbara Jean Grothe, who died in 2018, and his son, Robert Carl Mooney. He is survived by six children: Marcia Bingham, Carol Coffey (Mark), James Daniel (Mary Ellen), Melissa Mooney, Cathy Dodson Smith (Steve), and Mary Mooney; grandchildren Tyrone Coffey, Jennifer Duggan (Mike), Adam Dodson (Erin), Andrew Dodson (Jessica), Elizabeth Baldridge (Mike), Haylee Smith, Lauren Mooney Tia (Albert), Kristen Mane, Zachary Plocich, and eight great-grandchildren.
James will be buried next to his beloved wife Barbara and son Robert Carl at San Fernando Mission Cemetery in Mission Hills. Arrangements are by Mission Hills Catholic Mortuary in Mission Hills, California. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to The Fund for Davidson [community.davidson.edu.].