He was born February 20, 1927 in Koloa, Kauai, Territory of Hawaii and was the fifth of ten children born to James K. Kula, Sr. and Elizabeth Kikoo Kula. When their father died in 1936, he came to Honolulu to live with relatives. He attended St. Anthony School in Kalihi and then went to Roosevelt High School. In 1945 when he turned 18, he and many students were encouraged to leave school and "do something for your country". He went to San Francisco and joined the Sailor's Union of the Pacific.
He was a 75 year member of that union and for 50 plus years sailed the seven seas and around the world at least a dozen times. He entertained family and friends with stories of his sailing days ranging from San Francisco, Okinawa, Tokyo Bay, New York City, Amsterdam, South America, the Tasman Sea, Suez Canal, Philippine Islands and the mouth of the Columbia River.
He served in the US Army at Camp Roberts, California during the Korean conflict where he was a Field First Sergeant and trained recruits in groups of 250 for 18 weeks preparing them for the rigors of war.
He lived in San Francisco from 1945 until 1978 when he returned home to become reunited with his family.
In March 2020 it was established that US Merchant Marine veterans of WW2 will receive the Congressional Gold Medal. James' will be awarded posthumously.
He is survived by his wife, Barbara; brother Roland; sisters Elizabeth Muller, Margaret Stafford, Ann Morano, step-daughter Carlina Livermore, 2 granddaughters and 3 great-grandchildren in addition to many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by brothers Robert Kelina, Lani and Sidney.
Ashes will be sprinkled at sea. Memorial services will be held at a later date.
Our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the deceased