November 29, 1929 - April 19, 2018
The Last Alarm has sounded for retired Taft City Fire Chief, James (Jim) Robert Gaither, as Jim passed away on the morning of April 19, 2018, in Bakersfield California. Jim, or “Chief” as his family and friends came to know him as, was born in Taft, California, on November 29, 1929 to James Richard Gaither and Adda Gaither. Jim truly lived life to the fullest, and his favorite past time was being with family and chatting with friends. Jim’s life consisted of many journeys. He joined the U.S. Navy straight out of High School, patriotically served his country on the USS -Seadog SS-401 during the Korean War. Upon his honorable discharge, he returned to Taft and continued to serve, by joining the Taft City Fire Crew. Jim relentlessly took training courses and college courses towards excelling at his craft, so much that he later earned the honor of becoming the Chief of the Taft City Fire Dept. He continued to proudly serve his city for over thirty years. In addition to his career in the fire department, Jim was also employed in areas such as in the oil industry, real estate, and other fire-safety related areas. Jim was also a member of the Kiwanis Club and Moose Lodge of Taft.
Jim’s one-of-a-kind personality definitely made this world a better place. He knew no strangers, as it would take him but a brief moment to strike up a pleasant and “Jim-style” humorous conversation with everybody he met. Jim was down to earth, warm and good-natured, who made everybody happy with his bonding humor.
Jim had accepted the Lord Jesus, and we can now imagine him carrying his wonderful humor with him into eternity.
Jim is survived by his loving wife of 26 (and a half) years, Wilma (Willie) Gaither; his children, Connie Miller, DeAnn Samply-husband Mike, Ed Gaither-wife Jennifer, step-children Michelle Lopez, John Lopez- wife Angie, Jerry Lopez-wife Kelly, sister, Lorraine (Tiny) Simmons, grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces, nephews and many wonderful friends he chose to call family. Jim will be buried in a private ceremony at the Bakersfield National (Veteran’s) Cemetery; however, family, friends and others whose lives Jim touched are invited to attend a Memorial Service on Saturday, April 28th, at 11:00, at the old Taft City Fire Department, at 801 Center Street. Immediately following, there will be a Celebration of Life (luncheon) at the OT’s Cookhouse, located at 205 North 10th Street.
In lieu of flowers, donations are welcomed as we are establishing a scholarship in Jim’s name at his alma mater, Taft Union High School. Jim is dearly loved and missed.