James Warren Deats, 91, known as “Chic” to his friends, died peacefully Feb. 10, 2018, with family at his side, after a long struggle with dementia. He and his twin sister, Margaret Ann, were born on April 13, 1926, and grew up in Llano, Texas.
After graduating from Llano High School, James enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1944 and served as a crew member of a B-17 bomber. Before shipping out to England, he married Velma Alene Trammell Deats, also from Llano, on Nov. 24, 1944. They remained married for the rest of his life.
After being honorably discharged at the end of World War II, James took advantage of the G.I. Bill to enroll in the University of Texas at Austin. The first in his family to go to college, he graduated in 1950 with a degree in mechanical engineering. He took a job with Otis Elevator, working for Otis until his retirement in 1990. He placed elevators in operation in buildings across San Antonio and Texas, including the original elevators in the Tower of Americas in 1968.
James and Velma started a family in 1950 with the birth of their first son, Jim, followed by Craig in 1953 and Leann in 1954. After a brief time in Dallas, James and Velma moved their family to San Antonio in 1957. In 1971, James and Velma realized a lifelong dream when they moved into a home in Hill Country Village that James largely built himself. He was determined to and did remain in that home until his death.
James is remembered for his strong work ethic, his sense of humor, and his love of family. He was never happier than when on family vacations spent in a fishing cabin on his uncle’s ranch on the Llano River, and later, during times spent at family gatherings with the grandchildren. A lifelong Presbyterian, James was a member first of Pilgrim Presbyterian Church and later of San Pedro Presbyterian Church. He was an avid bridge player, a hobby he passed on to both his sons. He also loved to square dance; he and Velma were members of the Bexar Squares Club for more than 50 years. He loved his dogs, which included three successive blue heelers, and was quick to point out that each were “blooded animals.” Most of all, he loved his family, especially his six grandchildren.
James was preceded in death by his father, Rufas Warren Deats, and mother, Dokie Long Deats. He is survived by his sister, Margaret Ann; beloved wife, Velma; children, James Alan Deats, Bruce Craig Deats (wife Lydia), and Leann Deats Howerton (husband Lance); six grandchildren, Taylor Deats, Doke Cole Deats, Lauren Howerton Mitchell, Lisa Howerton Becton, Caleb Hayes-Deats, and Caroline Deats Sanchez; and four great-grandchildren (with three more to arrive later this year).
A graveside service is 2 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 14, at Llano City Cemetery. A memorial service will be held at San Pedro Presbyterian Church at a time to be determined later.
Arrangements by Waldrope-Hatfield-Hawthorne Funeral Home, 307 E. Sandstone in Llano, (325) 247-4300. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with condolences.