LAS CRUCES — America has lost another of its Greatest Generation, Las Cruces has lost a truly original personality, and the McMullan Family mourns the loss of a much-loved husband and father. James J McMullan, 86, of Las Cruces, passed away peacefully and with dignity at his home in Doña Ana County, surrounded by his wife, children, and grandchildren. He died of natural causes directly related to living life to the fullest and making every day worthwhile.
Known throughout his life as Jimmy, Bubber, and most recently Cowboy Jim, he was born to William and Mattie McMullan on May 9, 1926, into a family that included five brothers, Billy, Aggie, Joe, Tommy, and Rodney, and two sisters, Mary Margaret and Tana. Vaughn, N.M., had no idea of what was coming when Jim was born. A true Renaissance man, Jim was famous for being a jack-of-all-trades and a master of many subjects. During his 86 years, he lived several lives, knowing that to reinvent yourself every decade just made things more interesting. At 17, he lied on his military application, and enlisted in the United States Navy during World War II, serving with honor as a petty officer first class in the South Pacific, and as a gunner on the HMS Bloemfontein.
After his honorable discharge from the military, he was recruited by the University of New Mexico to run track, where he bested the state record for the 100-yard and 50-yard dash multiple times. Recognizing his speed and agility, the football team quickly added him to the roster as their star running back, carrying the ball to numerous touchdowns along the way. He was lucky enough to meet Mary E. Budagher during that celebrated time, and wisely married her on Aug. 16, 1949.
After graduation, Jim fulfilled his dream of being a teacher and football coach, working in Deming, Grants, and Littlefield, Texas. With degrees in physical education and English, he was known to recite Shakespeare to anyone who would listen, and inspired young players to rise above their size and ability to be victors on the field. He “schooled” not only those in the classroom, but his children, their friends and anyone else who walked through the front door.
In 1957, he became one of the first managers of the Sunland region for State Farm Insurance, and mentored countless agents toward success. He gave 35 years to the company, bringing life to the slogan, “Like a Good Neighbor …” Throughout his business career, he was an avid entrepreneur and risk taker, buying and selling multiple properties and businesses in New Mexico and Arizona, most notably Cycle Villa and Cattleman’s Steakhouse.
After he retired from State Farm, he reinvented himself again as Cowboy Jim, purveyor of fine steaks, liquor, and New Mexico artifacts. He was known to don a cowboy hat, black vest, boots custom-fitted with taps, and tap dance to the music of Dean Martin, to the great delight of his customers.
During his lifetime he also tried his hand as a shoe shine boy, body builder, freakishly strong for his size power lifter, unlicensed pilot of the pink panther air glider, professional baseball player in Mexico, poet, musician, actor, entertainer and comedian, captain of a yacht permanently docked in his front yard, amateur magician, small-time jewelry dealer and diamond collector, pecan farmer, carpenter, electrician, plumber, swimming pool expert, son, husband, uncle, grandfather, great-grandfather, and most notably father of 11 children, Jude McMullan, James J. McMullan II, Beverly McMullan, Barbara McMullan, Marilyn Manatt, Robert McMullan, Sallie Clifford, Coeen McMullan, Thomas McMullan, Janie Blue and Sheila McMullan. His legacy includes 23 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
A visitation will be held from 6 to 7 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013, at Holy Cross Church, 1327 N. Miranda, Las Cruces, NM 88005, where a prayer vigil will follow at 7 p.m. Funeral Mass will be held at 10 a.m., Friday, Jan. 18, 2013, also at Holy Cross Catholic Church, with Msgr. John Anderson officiating. Rite of Christian burial will follow at Hillcrest Memorial Gardens with military honors.
In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to either The Carrie Tingley Hospital Foundation, carrietingleyhospitalfoundation.org, or St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, stjude.org.
Arrangements are with Getz Funeral Home 1410 E. Bowman Ave., Las Cruces New Mexico 88001. To sign the local online guest book visit GetzCares.com.