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Robert M. James Jr., co-founder of Kissing Bridge; Oct. 26, 1923 -- May 7, 2012

Robert M. James Jr., co-founder of Kissing Bridge ski resort and president of an energy business, died Monday in his Town of Boston home. He was 88.

Born in Chattanooga, Tenn., Mr. James was a child when his family moved to this area. He was a graduate of Amherst High School and attended the University of New Hampshire before enlisting in the Army.

He was a sergeant and medic during World War II serving in Okinawa, Japan.

Mr. James later earned a degree in business administration from the University of Buffalo and worked for Fleetlight Window Co. in Buffalo, where he quickly rose from a commissioned salesman to sales manager.

In 1960, he and his brother-in-law, Harry J. Loomis, co-founded Kissing Bridge Ski Corporation, of which Mr. James was president. With only $100, the two bought 415 acres of land in Glenwood, where Mr. Loomis lived in a restored log cabin with his family.

Mr. Loomis died in January in a car accident.

In the 1980s, Mr. James and his wife founded James Energy Corp., which is active in the oil, gas and alternative energy fields. "He and some guys started researching [alternative] energy sources," explained a son, Robert M. III.

Mr. James remained active with the company until his death.

Business often took him to Texas, where he developed many lasting friendships. He was an entrepreneur and business adviser, and a mentor for many who sought to develop their own projects.

William J. Magavern II, chairman of the board of Kissing Bridge and a business associate of Mr. James for 50 years, described him as a "super salesman" responsible for getting the ski resort off the ground. "He was a man of irrepressible optimism and good will, the qualities that enabled him to develop Kissing Bridge," Magavern said. Mr. James' interests included golf; in later years, he shared his love for the game by offering lessons to friends in the community.

He also enjoyed fishing and hunting, passions he shared with his father and children, business associates and friends. Those pursuits led him to serve as president of the National Ruffed Grouse Society.

Mr. James also was a pilot who loved the freedom of flight, landing and taking off from waterways in his amphibious airplane.

Survivors also include his wife of 63 years, the former Helen Loomis, whom he met in high school; two daughters, Melinda Umlauf and Jesse Michaud; two other sons, Thomas and Peter; and a sister, Marianne Miller.

A memorial service will be at 2 p.m. Sunday in the main lodge at Kissing Bridge, Route 240, Glenwood.