James Preston Girard

Graveside services for James Preston Girard, 75, Lawrence, will be held at 10 a.m. Friday, June 12, 2020 at Oak Hill Cemetery. James passed away Monday, June 8, 2020 at Brandon Woods at Alvamar.

James was born on July 6, 1944 in Tillamook, OR, the son of Preston Leroy and Inez Elizabeth (May) Girard.

He graduated from both Wichita East High School and the University of Kansas and then went on to receive his Master’s from John Hopkins University.

He married Barbara Scott on June 1, 1966 in Lawrence. She survives of the home.

He enjoyed his cats, reading, music and KU Basketball.

James had careers in fiction writing, teaching and Journalism. In the 1970s he wrote short stories in the science fiction genre and was published in prominent periodicals and science fiction anthologies. His first literary novel, “Changing All Those Changes”, was published in 1976. He taught freshman comp classes at the University of Kansas and was a reporter and editor for the Topeka Capital-Journal. He was a copy desk and systems editor for the Wichita Eagle Beacon beginning in 1978 until he retired in 1991 to write suspense novels. His most acclaimed suspense novel was “The Late Man”, published in 1993.

Other survivors include his son, Preston Girard; daughter Amy Girard-Brady; and five grandchildren, Katy Brady, Mary Brady, Ronan Brady, and Samuel Girard and Maxwell Girard. Jim’s family and friends loved him very much and will miss his perceptive humor and observations.

James will lie in state from noon until 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 11th at Warren-McElwain Mortuary in Lawrence.

The family wishes to thank the staff at Lawrence Memorial Hospital and at Brandon Woods, along with Dr. Molly Imber, Sky Carey and VNA Hospice personnel for their attentive and responsive care which they gave to Jim in his final days.

The family suggests memorials in his name sent to the Lawrence Humane Society or VNA Hospice and may be sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary, 120 W. 13th Street, Lawrence, KS 66044.

13 Condolences

  1. Robert Mitchell on June 8, 2020 at 7:34 pm

    To Barbara, Amy, and Preston: I first met Jim Girard in the fall of 1965, when a mutual friend who’d met him at the University of Kansas introduced us. I was 18 at the time, and he would have been 21. We were both Wichitans; he went to East High and I went to Southeast. By the time I got to KU a year later, Jim had married Barbara and gone off to Baltimore.
    When I saw him next, it was the fall of 1967. I’d enrolled at KU and Jim had moved back to Kansas, where he taught briefly at the College of Emporia. I ran into him in the parking lot of the campus hospital, where we’d come (separately) to visit a mutual friend who’d been in a fairly serious automobile accident. Jim was in his car, listening to a KU football game. A man after my own heart.
    That must have been when I met Barbara, whom I found hilarious and occasionally intimidating. The Girard family moved between Lawrence, Topeka, and Newton. But Lawrence was Jim’s spiritual home. Boy, did he love KU sports, especially basketball. On weekend afternoons during football and basketball seasons, I’d find a reason to drift over to the Girard manse and invite myself in to watch whatever game happened to be on. I’m sure I made a nuisance of myself.
    We shared a love of rock & roll, and enjoyed sharing new records. Jim had kept a hand-written list of the top 313 songs of the year 1957 (according to Wichita radio station KWBB), and for some reason, he decided to share it with me on the evening of January 1, 1969. I remember the date only because we were watching a football game at the time. It was the Orange Bowl, in which KU tragically lost to Penn State on a last second penalty. I barely noticed, having already become entranced with that list of 313 songs. I wanted all of them, even the ones I’d never heard of. Especially the ones I’d never heard of.
    Over the years, that list became a touchstone for me. It took decades, but I finally collected all 313. By that time, I’d long-since relocated to Tucson, AZ, where I’ve lived since 1973. I get tired even thinking about it now, but back in the 70s and 80s, I used to drive back to Kansas two or three times a year to see family and friends. The visit with the Girards was always the highlight of my trip.
    In recent years, Jim suffered from peripheral neuropathy, which limited our correspondence, or at least his side of it. I emailed him anyway, and bombarded him with mix tapes (later CDs) of songs I hoped he’d like. No doubt I overdid it, which is another thing I’ll have to atone for. As best I remember our most recent correspondence, Jim wrote about his love for his grandchildren, and for his cats, especially one named Mahood.
    I’ve thought about Jim nearly every day, even when we weren’t in regular contact. As William Faulkner wrote, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” Jim Girard’s memory will be a blessing to me until I pass from this mortal coil. And who knows, maybe even after that!

  2. Jose Peggs on June 9, 2020 at 9:32 am

    Barbara and family – my deepest condolences on the death of Jim. May you remember all the good times and that they will bring you comfort. With love and prayers Jose Peggs

  3. Jonathan Paretsky on June 9, 2020 at 10:59 am

    I only got to know Jim when he was in his 50’s. I always thought he must have been a remarkably dynamic and engaging man in his youth. As was, I found him a witty and difficult and intelligent and frustrating and caring and exasperating and talented and complex individual. Although I haven’t been in contact with him for many years, I feel a deep sense of loss at the news of his death. My best wishes go out to all his family. The world has lost a very good man.

  4. Sheila Reynolds on June 9, 2020 at 5:00 pm

    I’ve read many online condolences, but have not written one until now. There was not a mold for Jim — he was one of a kind. He was so lucky to have his family and I know he loved you deeply — Barbara, Amy, Preston, their spouses and children. Jim’s intelligence, sense of humor, and curiosity made him a delightful talking companion and a gifted writer. I grieve his death. I celebrate his life.

  5. Denise Scott Landes on June 10, 2020 at 7:54 am

    My heart aches for your loss. May his love and support carry you all through the days without him. Love and hugs to all.

  6. Suzie Oakes on June 10, 2020 at 8:05 am

    So sorry for your loss. Hugs and prayers.
    Dan & Suzie Scott Oakes

  7. Bill Hirschman on June 10, 2020 at 9:50 am

    You probably don’t remember me but I was a friend of Jim’s at the Eagle, loved his novel The Late Man, and bonded over our mutual love of trivia. I loved the questions he came up with for the television program Brainbusters.

  8. Pat and Janis Scott on June 10, 2020 at 11:28 am

    So sorry to hear of Jim’s passing. He was a unique man.

  9. Sandra (Kaiser) Larson on June 10, 2020 at 12:26 pm

    So Sorry for your loss Barbara. Blessings for peace for you and your family.

  10. Marcia willoughby Dumler on June 10, 2020 at 3:33 pm

    Barbara: So sorry to learn of the passing of your husband. I understand loss, and feel for you too. I hope you find peace in the support of those who love you and your family.

  11. Sue Harper Ice on June 10, 2020 at 5:38 pm

    Barbara, please know that my thoughts and sympathy are with you, Preston and Amy. I was a para. with your mom in the Title 1 remedial reading program at Sunset and Roosevelt schools for about 5 years. I loved your mom……It was a joy to work with her. I always heard a lot about you, Jim, Preston and Amy from her.

    My daughter Laura taught with you at NHS for a year after she graduated from KU before she went to law school. You had the reputation of being a great teacher and she strongly agreed.

    My condolences, Barbara.

  12. Susan Wolfe on June 10, 2020 at 9:38 pm

    Barbara – I’m very sorry for your loss. I hope you can be with your family during this time.

  13. Lynn Bonney on June 11, 2020 at 6:28 am

    Working with Jim at the Eagle was a joy. I loved sharing comments on mystery novels and hearing his stories. Barbara, do you remember “coaching” the trivia team we put together? You and Jim made it so much fun. I’m grateful that you’re part of my memories.

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