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James Edward Naughton

Untitled 5KIRKLAND – James Edward (“Nubby”) Naughton, of Kirtland, passed on Oct. 7, 2015. He was 90.

James started the first grade at Oliver Perry Elementary, later attending Nottingham in Cleveland, Euclid Central and Wickliffe Lincoln, before coming to his beloved hometown of Kirtland in the sixth grade.

In high school, he was active as a sports reporter and participated in the drama club.

With a passion for sports, Nubby was quarterback for the football team, played first base for the baseball team and left guard on the championship basketball team. He belonged to the school’s Leader’s Club.

Upon graduating, he joined the U.S. Navy in World War II, serving aboard the amphibious gun boat 449 and the U.S. Noa destroyer in the South Pacific. The U.S. Noa sank in the battle of Palau, where he drifted in the water for hours.

He was a gunner for the first Navy Seals, earning four bronze stars and an acknowledgement from the U.S. Secretary of the Navy.

After the war, Nubby remained active as a lifetime member of American Legion Post 609.

After graduating from Kent State University, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Education, James married his beloved wife, LaVerne, on Jan. 6, 1950, at the Old South Church. A few years later, he adopted LaVerne’s daughter, Jeanne, and the family grew with the addition of Casey 10 years later.

James and LaVerne established Naughton Realty in 1956 and for more than 50 years built homes and developed subdivisions throughout the Kirtland area.

James was a member of the Business Men’s Club and helped establish Lakeland Community College. He was on the Lake County Board of Elections for 16 years and constable for four.

In 1958, Nubby became a charter member of the Kirtland Kiwanis Club, serving as president and co-chair for the Strawberry Festival, where he and LaVerne ran the flea market for 28 years.

In 1968, James was elected to the new Kirtland Village Council, serving as president pro-temp.

In 1970, he was elected the City of Kirtland’s first mayor, establishing the city’s first police department.

James served on the Kirtland Recreation Commission, leading the development of the Kirtland Recreation Park.

In 1997, he and LaVerne started the project of a Kirtland Area Veteran’s Memorial to honor the veterans of Kirtland, Kirtland Hills and Waite Hill.

James was also voted Kirtland Citizen of the Year for his devotion to his community.

During his last six months, he moved from Kirtland to Hudson, where he enjoyed playing pool and eating out with friends from the Gables of Hudson.

James is survived by brothers, Les (Georgia) and Lynn; daughters, Jeanne (Ted) Yurkon, of Chardon, and Casey (Mark) Rotruck, of Hudson; grandchildren, Karen (Charles) Babcock, Tom (Valerie) DeMell, Christine (Eric) Mix, Tim DeMell and Wenlan Rotruck; and great-grandchildren, Alexandra Babcock, Charles Babcock, Katherine DeMell and Timothy DeMell.

He was preceded in death by his wife, LaVerne, in 2011; parents, Raymond and Violet Naughton; sister, Marilyn Tsipis; and sister in law, Marylou.

A memorial service will be held at Kirtland Elementary School on Nov. 7 at 2 p.m.