James Edward Vachuska, 89, of Franklin, TN, passed away on May 13, 2023.
James was born in Jackson, Minnesota to Albert and Emma (nee Mier) Vachuska. After graduating in 1952 from Jackson High School, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, where he trained at Camp Pendleton and Fort Gordon, and was later based at Camp LeJeune. He was promoted meritoriously while in service. While on a weekend pass to Atlanta, his Marine buddy introduced him to a beautiful Georgia peach named Fay. They married and have spent 67 years together.
After leaving the military, James began a 31-year career with General Motors as a manufacturing engineer, starting at the Lakewood plant in Atlanta, then transferring to Central Office in Detroit in 1961. As his specialty was the startup of new plants, he moved his family to Ohio in 1964 where he worked at the Lordstown plant, transferred to Shreveport, LA in 1979, then made his final move to the Saturn plant in Spring Hill, TN in 1989. He received Bachelor’s degrees in Physics from Thomas Edison State University and in History from LSU in Shreveport. After retiring in 1996, he filled his time by acting as a vendor representative at both the Saturn and Nissan plants. He volunteered with the Williamson County Election Commission, working as the Officer of Elections in Leipers Fork, TN. His passions were history and airplanes, and he belonged to the Experimental Aircraft Association chapter in Spring Hill, TN. He loved attending the annual EAA International Fly-In in Oshkosh, WI for many years. His zero-turn tractor was his baby, and he logged many hours mowing his vast lawn. Every time he mowed, it seemed to rain the next day, creating an endless battle of keeping his lawn neat.
James is preceded in death by his parents, his sister Arlene Splinter of Vallejo, CA, and his brother Vernon Vachuska of Jackson, MN. He is survived by his wife, Fay Benton Vachuska, his daughter Cindy Vachuska, of Franklin, a son James, his sister Doris Palmer, of Worthington, MN, and a brother-in-law Joseph Benton, of Lithonia, GA. He is also survived by his dear friends Bill and Melba Dagy of Grove, OK, Bob and Ernie Greenslate of West Chester, OH, Todd Drake of Franklin, TN, Steve Whetstone of Hudson, FL, and Dennis Fox of Oklahoma City, OK. Also, he is survived by many nieces, nephews, and cousins in Georgia, Minnesota, and California.
A graveside service with military honors will be performed in Franklin, TN at 10:00AM Saturday, June 3, 2023. Williamson Memorial Funeral Home in Franklin, TN will list the details. His family extends their sincere appreciation to his doctor at Tennessee Oncology in Franklin and the staff at Alive Hospice in Nashville. Donations in memory of James Edward Vachuska can be made for pancreatic cancer research and to the EAA organization for those who love to fly.