[Photo courtesy of Spanish Valley Mortuary]

James Edward Purcell, 84, passed away peacefully in his home, surrounded by family, on the morning of September 27. A resident of Moab since 1957, He was born in Tucumcari, New Mexico, on January 12, 1933, to Van Zant Purcell and Elva Wright Purcell.

James grew up in Texas. From a young age, he was considered a hard worker. He moved with his family to Utah in 1951, when he began working in the uranium mines. He loved to tell his children and grandchildren how he dropped out of school at the age of 14 and rebuilt the motor on an old tractor for his mother and began helping her on the farm. James always rose to the task.

James met Era Funk (who was working as a school teacher in Summit Point, Utah) at a Bible-study group. The two fell in love and after a short courtship, they were married on July 25, 1953. The marriage was held just days before he left for his service in the Army. James was stationed at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas. Despite his lack of much formal education, James’ aptitude for all things electrical was recognized by the Army and he was promoted to the position of radar instructor.

In 1957, James moved his family to Moab to work on an oil rig near Dead Horse Point. One year later he was hired by Utah Power and Light as an apprentice lineman and eventually achieved his journeyman lineman certification. James was an active member in the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (the IBEW) until his death. James worked for Utah Power and Light for 30 years and retired when he was 56. He was very proud of his safety record working with high-voltage electricity without one lost-time accident.

James enjoyed woodworking and construction. He built his home on Spanish Valley Drive (which was known as Poverty Flats at the time) in 1960 and lived there until his death. When his kids were small, he enjoyed going fishing and camping and joked that he “always got his truck stuck at Hidden Lake.” After their kids were grown, James and Era went on several cross-country trips with their travel trailer. They loved to visit new places.

James has joined his wife and their youngest daughter, Shelly Marie, in heaven. He is survived by his daughters, Charlotte Gary and her husband Dave; Debra Perkins and her husband Kenneth; and Leslie Balling and her husband Gregg; and his grandchildren, Candice and Megan Gary; Season (Perkins) Hatcher and her husband Micah; Angela and Cameron Phillips; and Riley Balling.

There will be a viewing at Spanish Valley Mortuary on Thursday, October 5, between 6 and 8 p.m. James’ service will be held at the Assembly of God church, located at 1205 S. Boulder Avenue in Moab, on Friday, October 6, at 11 a.m., with a graveside service to follow.

The family would like to offer its deepest thanks to all of James’ caregivers from Four Corners Health Care over the years; also to everyone with Grand County Hospice who provided wonderful support and peace of mind at the end of this journey. Thank you all so much.

Condolences may be sent to the family at www.SpanishValleyMortuary.com.