Obituary of James Matthew Wittes
James M. Wittes
Princeton, New Jersey
Died of natural causes at his home in Princeton on August 26, 2021.
Jim was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey to Lee and Irving Wittes, and grew up in Linden, with his older brother Jon. In his youth, Jim was a soccer player, president of the Linden High School student council, and an Eagle Scout.
He received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell University in 1966 and his M.S. in Product Design from Stanford University in 1968. He spent two summers as a cooperative student at Emerson Electric in St. Louis, where he roomed with good friends Bill, Bob, and Tim. For a time, he co-owned a business called “The Idea Mill” with his mother, Lee, selling DIY needlecraft kits. Over the course of his lifetime, he was a part of several design patents, including many in the medical field, and took great pride in his work. Curious, inquisitive, and abundantly creative, colleagues describe him as a joy to work with, appreciating his ability to think outside the box.
Over the last decade, he enjoyed an exciting reinvigoration of his design career due to a serendipitous partnership with his friend Philip, who he happened to meet at the Kingston Garage auto shop. Said Philip, “Jim could see solutions to a problem that did not currently exist. It was like magic. He worked with unbridled enthusiasm and was a master communicator.”
Jim also worked as a volunteer with the American College of Orgonomy – both as a member of their business board and also as the project manager in a massive overhaul of the college grounds. He believed in the ACO’s cause more than just about anything and was grateful for the opportunity to help and for the relationships he made there.
Jim valued truth, connection, nature, health, and wellness and through the lens of these principles, lived his life absolutely on his own terms.
He loved discovering good movies and favored those that explore the depth of the human condition. He often hosted “DVD Theater” nights at his home, inviting various groups of friends and neighbors for a movie, tea, popcorn, and conversation. He also loved “hands on” projects. He enjoyed the challenge of building a house with his dear friend Bill, and could often be found helping others with their home improvement endeavors.
In recent years, he enjoyed taking “three mile” walks, eating dinner, and sharing laughs with his friend Irina. He also enjoyed celebrating holidays with Irina’s family – her daughter Anna, Anna’s husband Paul, and their daughter Leah. Leah, now almost ten, had a special relationship with Jim (who she nicknamed Jimathon) and will miss having him as a cohort to bring fun, play, and discussion of whales to dinner parties.
Jim was wonderful with children – creating stories and characters, drawing cartoons and comic books, inspiring magic and laughter through imagination and found objects, always the inventor. With his great nephew Nolan and great niece Allie, he enjoyed hosting watermelon parties, creating funny fan clubs with official ID cards, dining on grass fed burgers and lemonade at the Americana, and discussing elaborate and ridiculous ways to catch squirrels and emus. He had a wonderful sense of humor.
Though he never had children of his own, he had a strong bond with his niece Jen, and cared for her as if she were his own child. He made a lifetime commitment to her well-being and was her greatest champion and supporter. She will forever be grateful for his positive influence on her life. It meant everything.
He was simply a good person with positive energy and a generous spirit. Neighbors, colleagues, collaborators, local business owners and service providers have all expressed deep sadness at his passing. He seemed to make an impact on everyone he interacted with, even if only briefly.
Predeceased and Survivors:
Jim was predeceased by his mother, Lee Wittes, and father, Irving Wittes. He is survived by brother Jon and Jon’s wife Anna, niece Jennifer and Jennifer’s husband Chris, great niece Allie, great nephew Nolan, as well as many friends and colleagues who absolutely adored him.
A Celebration of Life will be planned for the spring.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to:
The American College of Orgonomy
Funeral Home in Princeton, NJ Providing Professional Funeral Services in Mercer, Middlesex, and Somerset Counties. Family Owned and Operated. Princeton's Oldest Funeral Home.
Phone: (609) 924-0242
Fax: (609) 683-5303