James M. Paras, of Elm Park, a retired Custodian of St. Adalbert Church and St. Adalbert Parochial School, who was devoted to his family and friends, died October 23, at Mt. Sinai Hospital in NYC, after a valiant struggle with heart disease and its complications.
Born and raised in Staten Island, he graduated from Port Richmond High School in 1973 and pursued an initial interest in pharmacy at Staten Island Community College. However, it was his love of working with his hands and being close to family that would ultimately reset the course of his career.
At Acme Supermarket, he was a Store Clerk and, most notably, a night-shift Stockroom Supervisor, where he performed a wide variety of duties, including inventory audit and ordering and stocking merchandise supplies and equipment. After a short stint at Walbaum’s, he landed himself in his own community backyard as Custodian of St. Adalbert Church and Parochial School, where he worked for 29 years, being affectionately known as “Big Jim” by virtue of his size and, more importantly, his heart. There he performed a diversified list of duties with an impressive knowledge of standard cleaning methods and equipment used in custodial work.
His many talents included bowling, pool, “sandlot” softball on the athletic side, being a cartoonist and caricaturist on the artistic side and, on the entertainment side, doing crossword puzzles in ink, being a film and TV show aficionado and home-grown, domestic DJ (known as “Rockin’ DJ Jim”), who would “spin” an elaborate mix of 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s religiously every Saturday night from his vast collection of CDs and home-recorded cassette tapes. Generously, he would devote time to gifting family and friends with a homemade compilation of requested songs by year, artist or preference, personalizing each with a larger-than-life “Rockin’ DJ Jim” introduction, a trademark of his radio “persona”. His love of all things Irish dubbed him the name of the “Polish Irishman”. His love of all things Halloween, Dark Shadows and horror movies dubbed him the name of a “true” Master of Horror. But his kindness, patience, strength, courage and loving nature dubbed him the highest honor of all: the names of “Gentle Giant” and “Mighty Oak” for which he will always be remembered.
Predeceased by his father, Emil Paras, and his mother, Rita (Rzymkowski) Paras, he is survived by his sister, Barbara Paras, and his sister Eileen Montgomery and family (Joe, Ryan and Emily).
“At the end of life, what really matters is not what we bought but what we built;
not what we got but what we shared;
not our competence but our character;
and not our success, but our significance.
Live a life that matters.
Live a life of love…”
(Credit: Lessons Taught By Life)
Jimmy sleeps with the Angels…
St. Adalbert's R.C. Church
337 Morningstar Road, S.I.N.Y. 10303