Sunday, November 10, 2013

James A. Stevens Obituary

James A. Stevens

  • "Jim and I were artists at Showcase House years ago and he..."
    - Anna Crist

James A. Stevens
November 19, 1922- March13, 2013
In loving memory of husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather, James A. Stevens, who passed away from natural causes at 90 after a wonderful life filled with love, adventure, dance, and kindnesses to others.

Born in Alhambra, CA., he attended Alhambra High School, serving as student body president and sports editor of the Moor newspaper. He attended Pasadena City College, and the University of Utah, then served as an officer aboard 
merchant ships during World War II, which gave him the opportunity to see the world and live in such diverse places as India, China, Java, Bali, Egypt, Iraq and Europe. He met the love of his life, Monza Higgs, while he was in Officer's School, and they married in 1949. They settled in Pasadena, CA, and had two children (two daughters, Tami and Erin). Upon Jim's passing, he and Monza had been happily married for 63 years. Together, Jim and Monza owned a successful retail store (from 1950-1970) called "The Wonderful Balinese Shop," located at the corner of Colorado and Orange Grove Blvd, where a giant paper moon hung in the window. Indicative of his generous happy spirit, the shop had a brass plaque on the door that read: Children May Touch! The Owners assume responsibility for any items broken by children in the shop. There were summer movies shown outdoors at the shop, under the stars, and an upstairs art gallery presenting works by many important California artists over the years. There were also lectures by prominent scientists and performances by acclaimed musicians, puppeteers, and magicians. After the shop closed, Jim went into the manufacturing of gift items, and the wholesale distribution of gifts around the globe. Since 1983,with his wife and two daughters, he has helped in running The Pasadena Ballroom Dance Assoc., at 73 N. Hill Ave, (located behind the church). Always an antique collector and yard sale aficionado, he was also a talented writer who wrote and published two books, along with countless numbers of poems and creative manuscripts.

Jim is survived by two of his five siblings: Larry (Weep) Stevens, and Mary Lou Retrosi, his wife Monza, his two daughters and their husbands Scott Price and Jim Key, along with three local grandchildren: Jimmy, Alex and Kaitlynn Key, as well as great grandchildren. He passed away at home with his adoring family surrounding him. He was an athletic man, and a man with tremendous moral strength, unfailing integrity, remarkable kindness, and the deepest capacity for love. We will miss him greatly.

In lieu of flowers, Jim Stevens would appreciate all of us holding his lifelong motto in our hearts: Be Kind.

Published in Pasadena Star-News on Mar. 20, 2013

I am resposting this obituary as it is such a lovely tribute to a very special man whose kind ways touched those who knew him well as well as others who knew him only as the kind owner of the wonderful, magical shop at the corner of Colorado and Orange Blvd.  I wrote about my experiences at the Balinese Shop in my blogpost here

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