James was born April 24, 1932 at Cotton Center to Ira and John Stavenhagen. After graduating from Lelia Lake High School in 1949, he played basketball for Clarendon College and graduated in 1952. He then played professional basketball for the Whiskered Wizards. James moved to Wichita, Kansas where he worked for Boeing Aircraft, while attending school at the University of Wichita, earning his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1954.
After completing his degree, he returned to Lelia Lake as a basketball coach and teacher. In June 1955, he joined the Army and served for two years. Upon completion of his service, he moved to Stratford where he taught and coached basketball. He attended West Texas Teachers College (now West Texas A & M University) receiving a Master of Education degree in 1960.
James married Geraldine Murphy Trapp, who had three children, in 1960. They lived in Stratford until 1961 when they moved to Wellington. After Geraldine died in 1966, James and his children remained in Wellington, Texas, where he continued teaching and coaching. James became Superintendent of schools at Quail in 1970.
James moved to Shamrock in 1973 where he was Director of Special Education, serving a five county area for the Eastern Panhandle Co-op. He married Virginia Blackerby Cooke in 1974. They lived in Shamrock for the remainder of James’s career, from which he retired in 1989.
James was an avid golfer and while living in Shamrock, he served as President of the Shamrock Country Club, and was on its Board of Directors for many years. He also served as President of the Shamrock Lions Club and was a faithful member of the Shamrock Booster club.
In 2001 James and Virginia moved to Pampa and joined the First United Methodist Church. He served on the Board of Directors for Pampa Country Club, and as President. He was a member of the Tri-State Seniors Golf Association for over twenty years, where he served as President and received the coveted “Colonel Bogie” Award. He also belonged to the Southwest Golf Association and participated in the “Life Begins at Forty” annual golf tournament at Harlingen for many years, where they made many dear friends.
James was passionate about his God, his family, his friends, farming, travel, and hunting quail, especially with his boys. Although James had no biological children, he saw the six children God gave him as his. He was father to each of them in every way. The grandchildren and great grandchildren were really special to him and they called him “Grand James,” but one tiny girl dubbed him “Stavey Baby.” James was a faithful friend and his golfing buddies were special to him.
The Stavenhagen family loved to travel and especially enjoyed trips with family and friends. Those trips included Europe, and cruises to Hawaii, the Mediterranean, Panama Canal, Alaska, the Eastern Seaboard, Canada, the Caribbean, Australia and New Zealand, as well as many trips within the United States.
James was also preceded in death by his parents, John and Ira Stavenhagen, his brother, Ed Stavenhagen, and his sister Earline Strand.
James built a legacy of integrity, faithfulness and hard work. Those left to honor and cherish his memory are his wife of forty-three years, Virginia, and his children: son, Steve and Sherry Trapp of Plano, daughter, Betsy and Mark Goen of Amarillo, daughter, Terry and Jerry Burkham of Ravina, Oklahoma, daughter, Beverly and Lynn Johnson of Mansfield, daughter, Cathy Burrell of Wheeler, and son, Kelly and Charlotte Cooke of Midland; 17 grandchildren, 20 great grandchildren, and 1 great-great granddaughter; three brothers: Mac and Jean Stavenhagen, and Bill and Annis Stavenhagen, all of Clarendon, and W.G. and Liz Stavenhagen of Dumas; and a sister: Pearline McCuiston of Clovis, New Mexico.
Memorial services will be 10:30 AM Thursday, February 23, 2017, at First United Methodist Church, with Rev. Ruby Moultrie, pastor, John Curry and Dale West, officiating. Cremation and arrangements are under the direction of Carmichael-Whatley Funeral Directors.