James Gail Ashcraft December 16, 1943 - November 24, 2015; died in SAN DIEGO, CA. Jim was born to Robert Gail Ashcraft and Alice Jane Laulis Ashcraft at home on December 16, 1943 in Shinnston, W. Va., interrupting his brother's birthday party.

At the age of 13, his family moved to the Sacramento area. He graduated from El Camino High School in 1961 where he played football, basketball and baseball. His senior year he was selected to the Sacramento All City football team, the Sacramento All City Basketball team and the All Northern California Basketball team.

Jim attended UC Berkeley graduating with a B.S. in Civil Engineering in 1966. A walk-on member for the CAL basketball team, he was selected Most Inspirational Player his junior and senior years and was elected team captain his senior year.

After graduation, Jim served in the U.S. Peace Corps for two years in Sicuani, Peru, about 80 miles south of Cuzco. He worked with the Peruvian government agency and was involved mobilizing and teaching the local residents in the construction of schools, secondary roads, irrigation canals, and drinking water systems. He learned to speak Spanish and some of the indigenous dialect.

Jim obtained a M.S. degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Washington, Seattle, in 1972 and later moved to San Diego. He became a Professional Civil Engineer in California in 1973 and worked as a consulting engineer designing sewage treatment plants, potable water treatment plants, water recycling facilities, pump stations and desalination systems. He worked for 40 years at multiple consulting engineering companies including Engineering Science, Lowry & Associates, Miramar Engineering, HYA Consulting Engineers (a partner in the firm for 13 years), Dames & Moore / URS, Tetra Tech and IEC.

Jim met his wife, Fran, while folk dancing in Balboa Park. He continued his fondness for singing and dancing as a member of the Rhythm-Aire Players in Pacific Beach for 12 years.

For over 20 years, he has been an active member of Lions Club International, District 4-L6, serving as Zone and Regional Chairs and was current President of the San Diego Mission Lions Club. As Lions, Jim and Fran became involved with Lions In Sight of California and Nevada, which promotes the collection of used eye glasses for the purpose of recycle and reuse, providing no cost primary eye care and glasses for people in need in developing countries. Together they participated in 22 mission eye clinics. For many years, Jim has been a member of Hardhats Toastmasters. He was also an active member of the La Jolla Presbyterian Church and a member of their Facilities Maintenance Committee.

Jim loved traveling and camping with his family plus teaching his children to ski and play golf. He participated in Indian Guides and Boy Scouts with his son. He was an avid sports fan but especially enjoyed golfing with friends and relatives whenever possible. Jim's incredible memory and sense of humor endeared him to those he met. In recent years he and his wife enjoyed travels to China, Greece, Turkey, Israel and Egypt.

Jim was preceded in death by his father, Robert Gail Ashcraft, and his mother, Alice Jane Ashcraft (Laulis). He is survived by his devoted wife of 42 years, Fran (Widener); son, Gregory James (fiance Michelle Esquivil) of Hillsboro, OR; daughter, Kimberly Anne (fianc Warren Krantz) of Phoenix, AZ; brother, David Robert Ashcraft (wife Janet Shelton) of Culver City, CA; and sister, Carolyn Jane Garthwaite (Ashcraft) of Coupeville, WA. He is also survived by numerous cousins, nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held at the La Jolla Presbyterian Church on January 9, 2016, at 2:00pm. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to: Lions In Sight of California and Nevada, www.lionsinsight.org or The Leukemia And Lymphoma Society, www.lls.org

Published in The San Diego Union Tribune on Dec. 20, 2015 -

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