James Lekas 1936 - 2023

James “Jim” Lekas, 87, peacefully passed away in his sleep on Monday, November 27, 2023, due to aspiration pneumonia while in the hospital in Winchester, Virginia. Jim was born October 5, 1936, in San Francisco to Harry and Eugenia Lekas, and he was a first-generation Greek American. Jim grew up in San Francisco and later in San Anselmo, California. He graduated from Marin Catholic High School, and he attended the University of San Francisco. In 1958, Jim and his family moved from Marin County to Lodi, California.

Jim was drafted into the Army in 1960. Following basic training and clerk school, Jim was sent to Madigan General Hospital in Tacoma, Washington, where he served as a chaplain's assistant. When his two-year tour of duty ended in 1962, he returned to Lodi and began a career with the Lodi Post Office. In early 1969, Jim was visiting a fellow post office employee, Ed Kermgard, where he met Ed's sister, Linda “Sue” Kermgard. Jim and Sue were married on July 12, 1969, in Fair Oaks, California. Jim and Sue were blessed with two children, Kevin and Kimberlee. On April 30, 1992, Jim retired from the post office. Jim and Sue moved to McMinnville, Oregon, where they lived for the next 28 years. They celebrated their 51st wedding anniversary in July of 2020, just prior to Sue’s passing later that month.

After Sue’s passing, Jim relocated to Winchester, Virginia, to live with his son, Kevin, and daughter-in-law, Kelly. Jim and Kevin took several train trips while Jim lived in Virginia, including a transcontinental round trip on Amtrak to Portland, Oregon, and then back to Virginia in 2021.

Jim spent much of his spare time with his lifelong railroad hobby. He has been a railroad buff all his life, specializing in the history of the western railroads. His deep railroad interest may have come from the fact that his father worked on the railroad when he first came to America. Many of Jim’s photos and his historical knowledge of western railroads have been published in multiple books and other publications over the years. He will be greatly missed by the many historical railroad societies, groups and friends he was actively involved with across the country.

Jim is survived by his son, Kevin Lekas (Kelly) of Winchester; daughter, Kimberlee Osborn (Kenneth) of Lincoln, Nebraska; grandson, Benjamin Lekas (Lindsay) of Davison, Michigan; granddaughter, Brittney Lekas of Carrboro, North Carolina; great-grandsons, Ryder, Ledger, and Rowan; and his dedicated caregiver, Kimberly “Lupe” Baker of Winchester. Jim was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Sue; and his parents, Harry and Eugenia Lekas.

A Funeral Mass will be recited at 11 a.m. Monday, December 11, 2023, at Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church in Winchester, Virginia. After the funeral and as a tribute to Jim’s love of railroads, Kevin and Kelly will transport Jim’s ashes to Sacramento, California, on Amtrak’s California Zephyr. After a brief visit with the California family and friends, Kevin and Kelly will continue to transport Jim’s ashes on Amtrak’s Coast Starlight to Portland, Oregon.

A Memorial service will be held at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, December 20, St. James Catholic Church in McMinnville, Oregon. Final committal will be held at 9:15 a.m. Thursday, December 21, at Willamette National Cemetery in Portland. In lieu of flowers or gifts, please consider a donation in Jim’s name to the Western Railway Museum in Suisun City, California, or the Market Street Railway in San Francisco, or the Winchester, Virginia, Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society (NRHS).


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