James Cooper Lewis (“Big Jim” to many, “Jimmy” to close family and “Papaw” to his grandkids) passed away in the arms of his family and wife of 61 years, Geraldine, on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2017.
He was born in Sylva on Aug. 20, 1936, to Edna Cooper and George Scroop; the oldest of three children, Patsy Jones (Sylva) and Scroop Lewis (deceased).
He met the love of his life at the Cherokee Indian Fair when he was 18 and she only 16. After a lengthy courtship of four months, they eloped to Walhalla, S.C., on April 6, 1955. In the summer of 1956, they welcomed their first daughter, an 11 pounder named Cheryl Ann. She now resides with her husband Capt. Mike Berger in Stuart, Fla.
Jim was later blessed with three more daughters: Donna, Jamie and Cindy. Donna resides with her husband, Pastor Greg Williams, in Batesburg, S.C. Jamie and Randy Barnett and Cindy and Paul Brown all still live in Murphy.
Jim and Geraldine brought their little family to Murphy in 1965, where he worked for his brother-in law at Hughes Hardware. Later he would go on to work as a town police officer, deputy sheriff, and was owner of Wiggles, a local bait and tackle shop located by the depot in Murphy.
He loved the mountains and was an avid sportsman. He often shared tales of his adventures and many colorful words of wisdom with the ones he loved, including his grandchildren and great-grandchildren: Bart Oliver (Princeton, N.J.), Jennifer (and Jacob) Hallman, Matthew (and Kim) and Caleb (and Kasey) Williams (Batesburg, S.C.), Morgan Oliver (Burlington), Aaron Barnett (Hickory), Taylor Oliver (Oakland, Calif.), Chase and Hailey Brown (Murphy) and Ashlynn and Sawyer Hallman (Batesburg, S.C.).
When asked to describe their Papaw in one word, his grandkids said: generous, honest, strong, tough, fiery, hardheaded, gregarious, loyal, dependable, loving and tenacious.
His daughters feel incredibly blessed to have had him as a father. He taught them all to be strong women who grew up knowing they could accomplish anything they set their minds to.
He loved his family more than anything else in the world and was able to spend time with all of them during his last week here.
The family would like to thank Dr. David Mock and his nurse, Jean Laney Evans, for the many years of miraculous and kind care, and also all of the doctors and nurses on the fifth floor of Mission Memorial Heart Center, Murphy Medical Center Emergency Room and Cherokee County Emergency Medical Services.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his honor to the Mission Rathbun House, 121 Sherwood Road, Asheville NC 28803; or alternatively take a hike in our mountains, catch a bass in one of our lakes or listen to the dogs run a bear.
The family will receive friends from 2-4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11, at Cochran Funeral Home in Peachtree.
Arrangements have been entrusted to Cochran Funeral Home of Murphy.
You may send condolences to the family and sign the guest registry at ww.cochranfuneralhomes.com.