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Memories & Candles

“I took a class at Sac City College years back, and lucky for me, Jim was my teacher. What a great instructor he was, and an inspiration to me, but...Read More »
1 of 6 | Posted by: Deborah Hosino - Elk Grove, CA

“Beautiful photos and memories of a special man, father, and friend to many. My love to all those who remain, remembering Jim. Lois ”
2 of 6 | Posted by: Lois Lorentzen

“Pam,Bri, and families...We'll miss Uncle Jim more than we can say. He was a big part of my life growing up, and his visits were always a treat. I...Read More »
3 of 6 | Posted by: Ann Frances - CA - niece/godchild

“Jim was a great friend and neighbor. We shared many good times on long walks to the lake, enjoying poolside leisure in his beautiful yard, sharing...Read More »
4 of 6 | Posted by: Marie & Ken Larson - Granite Bay, CA

“Bri, we know your dad loved you very much and was extremely proud of you. Take care. Ron ”
5 of 6 | Posted by: Ron Collins - San Carlos, CA

“God rest his soul and his loved ones. ”
6 of 6 | Posted by: George Elias Salom, Jr.


James Samuel Leavitt
Nov 18, 1936 – Mar 16, 2013

Jim Leavitt passed away on March 16, 2013 at Raksha Care Home in Albany, CA after a lengthy illness. He was 76 years old. Born in 1936, the youngest of eight children, Jim grew up on a small farm in the Central Valley town of Riverbank, California. The only child still at home, he began working at a very young age to help support his mother after his father died. As a Mexican-American and son of a widowed mother who spoke only Spanish, Jim faced tough times growing up, but he also had fond childhood memories of his mom's warm tortillas, fresh cow's milk, and the juicy cling peaches enjoyed while working in the orchards and canneries during summer months. Being raised in a bilingual, bicultural home and witnessing firsthand the hard lives of Mexican-American workers and Japanese-American farmers during World War II taught him that "you have to treat people fairly" – something he tried to do his entire life.

After leaving Riverbank, Jim went on to graduate in Police Administration from San Jose State College. He started his career as a deputy Sheriff/Detective with the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Department. He was then recruited by the Office of Naval Intelligence and served as a Special Agent (civilian), specializing in counterintelligence activities and major crime investigations within the Navy and Marines during the Vietnam War, stationed in Vietnam, the Philippines and Reno, Nevada.

Jim continued his education after returning stateside earning a Master's degree in Public Administration with a specialization in Justice Administration from Golden Gate University, San Francisco, and his Doctorate in Education from the University of San Francisco with a specialization in Organization and Leadership.

As a college professor of criminal justice in the 1970s, he was an early pioneer emphasizing cultural and racial awareness to prevent discrimination and improve police effectiveness in minority communities. He also championed women's entrance into policing. Two of the first women to enter the California Highway Patrol academy came through the program he developed at Cañada College.

Jim is survived by two daughters, Pamela Hamilton (Chuck) of Modesto, CA and Brianna Leavitt-Alcántara (Salvador) of Cincinnati, OH, and four grandsons, Ryan and Kevin Hamilton, and Mateo and Joaquin Alcántara. He treasured family time spent with his children and grandchildren. He was especially fond of holiday traditions -- decorating the Christmas tree, listening to Nat King Cole, and preparing his famous Chicken Mole for the Christmas feast. He became "Uncle Jim" to Salvador's family and a generation of nieces and nephews grew up spending long summer days in his backyard pool.

Jim is also survived by one brother, John Leavitt (Victoria) of San Jose, CA. He was preceded in death by his parents Jim and Frances Leavitt, brothers Edward, Manuel, Frank and Henry, and sisters Lucille Woods and Alice Magaña.

Jim was an adventurous spirit. He took flying lessons after resigning from ONI, always loved skiing and jogging, and he explored much of the world from Vietnam to Mexico. But he also loved quiet time close to home – hours spent perusing local bookstores, tending to his beautiful garden, afternoon naps, evening walks to Folsom Lake, and "puttering" around the house.

In 2006, Jim experienced a sudden onset of Dementia with Lewy Bodies, a disease marked by symptoms of both Dementia and Parkinson's. Jim courageously faced this illness with hope and determination. Through a wonderful Bay Area program called Eldergivers, Jim enthusiastically developed his artistic expression and was selected to participate in the 2011 and 2012 Eldergivers Annual Exhibit, which went on to be displayed in the San Francisco City Hall. The San Francisco Arts Council turned Jim's 2012 piece into a postcard to advertise the City Hall exhibit.

Pam and Bri would like to thank the wonderful caregivers at Raksha Care Home who took care of our dad for the last five years. We would also like to thank the Kaiser Hospice nurses, chaplains, and doctors who helped make Jim as comfortable as possible in his final weeks and days and who supported the family through this difficult time. A special thanks to Sandra Alcántara for accompanying our dad in his transition when we could not be there.

A Celebration of Life will be held on July 6th from 2-4 pm at 8335 W. Granite Dr., Granite Bay, CA 95746. The family requests that those interested in attending contact Bri at b.leavittalcantara@gmail.com. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests making a donation to Eldergivers of San Francisco.