2006-03-23 / Obituaries

James Bonbright Ketcham, 82

James B. Ketcham, 82, of Longfellow Road, died March 16, 2006 at home. He was the devoted husband of Ira D. (Davisson) Ketcham for 52 years.

Born in New York City in 1924, he was the son of Jean (Long) and William Tredwell Ketcham. He was a direct descendant of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt.

Mr. Ketcham was a graduate of Lawrence School, the Hill School, Yale University, Class of 1945, and he attended Columbia University Medical School.

He enlisted in the Army Air Corp, now the U. S. Air Force, in 1943 and entered the medical corp, and was in charge of organizing small medical units designed to function as 24-bed hospitals. These units were then flown into action. On behalf of this work, Mr. Ketcham was a recipient of the Legion of Merit Award for the invention of the M*A*S*H unit (mobile auxiliary surgical hospital). At the time, he was the youngest person to be awarded this prestigious medal. As a result, he was promoted to second lieutenant. He remained in the Air Force Reserve and was recalled to active duty in 1950 during the Korean War and was promoted to first lieutenant. In 1952, he was promoted to Air Force Captain and was released from his duties in June 1953 to pursue a career in business.

He was an administrator for Sloan Kettering Memorial Cancer Center, Paul R. Ray and Company, and Kollmorgen Corporation, where he retired in 1990 after 12 years as director of human resources. A longtime resident of Lawrence, N. Y., he retired to Jamestown in 1995.

Mr. Ketcham's life was one of service. He was both junior and senior warden of Trinity-St. John's Church in Hewlett, N.Y. He was awarded the Bishop's Cross for his distinctive years of service to the Episcopal Church. He was active in the Republican Party in New York, working for F. Clifton White and running Ralph Edsell's campaign for the U. S. Congress in 1964. He was also the Republican Town Committee member in Lawrence for over a decade. During his retirement, he served as the treasurer of the Republican Town Committee in Jamestown. He was a member of the Holland Lodge, the Reading Room of Newport, the Conanicut Yacht Club, the Rockaway Hunting Club, the Lawrence Beach Club, and the Cedarhurst Yacht Club. He was a lover of both opera and classical music and an avid reader and sports fan. While at Yale University, he was one of the founders of the Nathan Hale Society in which he was a lifetime member.

Mr. Ketcham was a devoted husband and father. Besides his wife, he is survived by his son, George Bonbright Ketcham of Newport, R.I.; three daughters, Laurie Camden Ketcham of Jamestown, Susan Ketcham Coffin of Manchester By the Sea, Mass. and Brucie Ketcham Donahue of Northfield, Vt. In addition, he is survived by sonsin law, Lloyd H. Coffin III and Thomas M. Donahue; a daughterin law, Mimi Ketcham; and his grandchildren, Benjamin Bonbright Coffin, Sarah Camden Coffin, James Tredwell Donahue, and Catherine Bruce Donahue.

He was the brother of William Tredwell Ketcham Jr. of New York, N.Y. and Lawrence, N.Y.

A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 25 at St. Matthew's Episcopal Church, 87 Narragansett Avenue, Jamestown, RI.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the Newport Hospital Foundation, 11 Friendship Street, Newport, RI 02840.

Funeral arrangements by the O'Neill-Hayes Funeral Home, 465 Spring Street, Newport, RI 02840.

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