James Paffhausen, Sr: May His Memory Be Eternal

met-jonah-250x315James Paffhausen was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan August 3, 1925, one of ten children. Before his last year of High School, he was drafted into the Army, where he served as a General’s Assistant, in the Pacific theatre, in battles in New Guinea and the Philippines, the invasion of Leyte, and in the initial stages of the occupation of Japan in MacArthur’s headquarters. He was a decorated veteran, with four Bronze Stars.

After being discharged in 1946, he returned to Michigan to finish his schooling and begin college. His father Joseph died in 1948, leaving his mother alone with several children yet to raise. In 1950, he was recalled to serve during the Korean War, most of which was spent at Fort Ord, California. After discharge, he join an Army buddy in his real estate finance business, A.H. Gruetzmacher, in Chicago, a career which he would pursue until he was 85.

In 1955, he met Louise Shrader at her father’s funeral, who was one of his business associates. They were married in 1957, and had their first child James in 1959 (Metropolitan Jonah), and a second child, Laura, in 1962. They moved from Chicago to a suburb, Downers Grove, in 1964.

In 1967, Jim left Gruetzmacher and formed a mortgage banking firm in Los Angeles. After two years, however, he returned to Chicago. In 1970, he joined partners in San Diego in another real estate and finance firm and the family moved to La Jolla, a suburb of San Diego. Eventually he and his partners bought and developed houses at the Escondido Country Club, in northern San Diego County.

In 1980 Jim formed Presidio Capital Corporation, and worked on the financing of many major real estate projects throughout California and beyond. He wrote a market commentary newsletter, and had a very accurate sense of the financial markets, coming problems and recessions. Despite declining health, he continued with his business and newsletter until 2010, when at 85 he decided to retire.

He and Louise moved to Washington, DC, in March of 2012, to be near their son, Metropolitan Jonah. He suffered the loss of his daughter Laura a year ago, in November, 2012. His health suffered considerably as well and a short time before his death, he fell and broke his hip, had surgery, and was not able to return home from the hospital.

He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Louise; and his son James Jr, (Metropolitan Jonah). He has one surviving sibling, Lorraine Thompson, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and a multitude of nieces and nephews.

He will be buried in Rock Creek Cemetery, next to his daughter Laura.


  1. What an amazing life. Thank you, George. I could never have done justice to James Paffhausen like you have. May his memory be eternal.

    May God be with Louise and Met. Jonah today, and in the weeks and months ahead.

  2. ChristineFevronia says

    Give rest, O Lord, to the soul of Thy servant James, who has fallen asleep in Thine arms.

  3. Condolences says

    Dear Friends,

    For those of you who would like to attend the service tomorrow for Vladyka’s
    father, it will be at the Philip Rinaldi Funeral Home at 9241 Columbia Blvd.,
    Silver Spring, at 10 am. Memorial lunch will be at Vladyka’s house, 3523
    Edmunds St. NW.

    Condolence messages can be sent to Louise Paffhausen at jvpaffhausen@earthlink.net
    or 202-735-5007 as well as to Vladyka.

    With love in Chris,

  4. It was a beautiful service, lots of familiar faces there . . . Most of the service was done inside because of the rain and was mostly Orthodox but some prayers were done by an Anglican priest and he presented Mrs. Paffhausen the American flag for his service to the country. +Jonah told his father’s story, quite a man. Really hard seeing Mrs. Paffhausen say good by . . . but all went smoothly. I left off at the funeral home . . . .

  5. The funeral service for James Paffhausen, Sr., Metropolitan Jonah’s father, was surprisingly well attended for a weekday, the crowd spilling out into the hallway of the large room where the funeral was held. At least four Orthodox jurisdictions were represented as well as Roman Catholic and Episcopalian clergy and monastics. One sweet baby cooed during the entire service with never a cry. I noticed six regular writers on the Monomakos but there may have been more.The flag for national service was presented by a military chaplain to Louise Paffhasen, the Metropolitan’s mother. Metropolitan Jonah gave a detailed history of his father’s life and his mother said nice words about Orthodoxy as well as recounting that she was blessed with a good relationship for 55 years and that she truly had that rarity, a happy family.

    There were two parts to the unique service, one orthodox part, the longest, followed by a short set of Episcopalian prayers, some of which replicated our Orthodox verses. Everyone took time to say farewell and kiss the departed.

    After the funeral service (did I mention the choir consisted of a mixture of mostly clergy, including one newly ordained, and some regular choir members and was led by a writer on Monomakhos?), we got in cars to follow the casket and made way in procession to the OCA section of the Rock Creek Cemetery., The burial was held, following the lead of Metropolitan Jonah in terms of what to sing and what to do. It was very wet, gloomy and muddy and the logistics of getting his mother Louise past puddles of water everywhere and to prevent her slopping on red clay ground was difficult. She was supported by a very solicitous matushka, who led the responses.

    We all took turns throwing our shovelful of dirt on the grave and then went off to the other side of the city to a funeral repast at the Metropolitan’s home next door to St. Nicholas cathedral. It was natural to think that just a year and a couple of weeks earlier, the funeral for his sister was held in the cathedral next doo to his house. Many beautiful food contributions made a banquet. The star of the culinary show was a star-patterned bread lovingly baked by Monomakhos’s “DC nun”, now an abbess, which was without butter, oil or milk or eggs to taste as if it had an abundance of all three. For a while, no one sat in James, Sr.’s favorite chair. One Ukrainian regular at Metropolitan Jonah’s spiritual studies had pickled a whole herring by hand, laboriously having plucked out all the tiny bones with tweezers. This was because during the repast for the anniversary of his daughter Laura’s passing so short a time ago, he had happily consumed thirds of the same dish, pronouncing the herring a favorite. The cook had made sure to bring his favorite of the past communal meal. During the time he has been in Washington, James, Sr. became a sweet friend of many. There were many contributions. And we really felt the losses of the Metropolitan who was characteristicallly organizaing and directing things himself, making sure that everything ended on the banquet table, that everyone had a coffee or tea cup from his hodge podge collection, that tarts were cut, that napkins were piled, that everyone had what they needed, that everyone was asked to pray for someone going off on a job intervie that very day, being solicitous of his mother, in fact attending to everyone but himself. That is how it was, and there is more.

    One memory of him from a year ago-At the gathering after Laura’s burial, an altar boy talked to him for over an hour about a variety of topics close to his own little boy heart. His mother said that he had simply taken to him as a friend over time and looked forward to seeing him as if he was a favorite relative. Many of us were shocked that he died for we thought he would last indefinitely. Another fond memory – At the memorial service for the year anniversary of his daughter Laura’s passing, he mouthed the words of the Lord’s Prayer.

  6. Bishop Tikhon Fitzgerald says

    Was “Helga” there? Did he serve?

    • Helga was not there. Logistics of getting here from out of state were difficult on such short notice on a weekday, if you were working you had to take off from work, and in the case of those clergy following the new calendar, there were even services that had to be officiated. For example,Fr Gregory Safchuk and his matushka were at their parish and were able to make it only to the repast. Some people made the funeral but not the burial or both of those but had to forego the repast. A ROCOR priest served. A chaplain presented the flag. An Episcopalian was at the burial.

    • Nope.