He was raised in San Francisco and returned to Hawaii for summer vacations. His happiest days were dragging redwood surfboards with a gang of kids down Waikiki Beach, riding the sugar train to and from Ewa and sleeping under the stars at Lanikuhonua where his grandmother, Kamokila Campbell lived.
After working his way through the University of Arizona, he joined the Marines Corps in 1954, as a first lieutenant. It was the end of the Korean War, and he was posted to Okinawa. His reputation as a leader was solidified early on after he won a balut eating contest. Four years later he returned to San Francisco, where he worked at the Curran Theater moving sets and working the lights. During that time he met his lifetime friend, Dick Boyd. The stories of their carousing can still be heard late-at-night in dark corners of bars around the San Francisco area.
At twenty-six, he moved to Honolulu where his large part-Hawaiian family lived. When he wasn't skimming across waves on his Paipo board, he became well-respected in public relations and advertising. He worked for Dillingham Corporation, and Hawaii Corp. He enjoyed parties, surfing, fishing, hunting, motorcycles, books, sailing, art, music, and most of all, people (not necessarily in that order). Jim had quite a reputation as a prankster. We know a few antics, like when he secretly fed Carla Beach's pet monkey pineapples soaked in rum at the Outrigger Canoe Club. Friends retaliated quickly when he got caught. On one occasion they used a crane to put a 750 lb. concrete pylon in the back of his beloved station wagon--The Green Weenie. The car went from its normal 10 miles a gallon to 1 mile a gallon before it met death. Many details of his escapades he took with him. As he liked to say, "A secret is something only one person knows."
He loved all these things almost as much as his wife, "A strawberry blonde in a red dress that he met at a party, and that was it," as he recently said. They would have been married 54 years this Cinco de Mayo.
Shortly after marrying, they left for Madrid where Jim studied Art on the GI Bill. During holidays they camped and skied their way across Europe, chasing the harvests and snow. To this day those two years created their most favorite memories. Returning to Hawaii he worked for Milici-Valentii for several years before he and Steve Hirano started their own company, specializing in political and labor issues.
In 1976 Jim and Priscilla and their two children moved to the Big Island settling in Waimea. Home was a small house overlooking Waiaka Stream adjacent to the Hawaii Preparatory Campus where the kids went to school. The front yard was pasture for horses, a Jersey cow, and a smelly ram the neighbor brought home from South Hilo. Weekends were spent outdoors exploring tide pools; riding motorcycles off road; scuba diving lava tubes on the Kohala Coast and adopting every animal great-or-small. Jim relished the friendships he made during those years and he will be sorely missed by those still living in North Kohala.
Jim was unfettered by the gene of embarrassment. He relished debate, infuriatingly even switching sides mid-argument just to keep the fun going. This allowed him to live his life to the fullest, always greeting strangers as friends, freely speaking his mind, and never being insecure. He believed one could choose to be happy. He thought it was one's personal responsibility to educate themself. He believed you could master anything if you gave it time and dedication. Art and playing the guitar were hobbies. He gave up painting at 81 years old and then had an Art Show called "Chaos of the Cosmos" when he was 85 years old (it's okay to change your mind). He loved life so much he used every minute he could. He mastered every sport except golf but absolutely loved playing it. He read every book he could. He wished that he sounded like Leonard Cohen and never knew he couldn't sing very well. Jim told a young friend recently, "Remember, there are infinite possibilities in life and remember, take care of your teeth. You only have one pair."
Jim is survived by his wife, Priscilla; two children, Kevin (Karen) Growney and Katherine 'Kate' Growney; Grandson, Caelin Growney; Granddaughter, Makenna Growney; his half-sister Alice Robinson plus numerous cousins and aunties.