Rhoton Funeral Home


James "Jim" Eddy Varnum

May 4, 1942April 25, 2016

Jim was born in May 1942 in Camden, New Jersey and died April 25, 2016 in Farmers Branch, Texas. He is survived by his wife, Stephanie, of 47 years, their son Christopher and his wife Michelle, and their daughter Sharon and her husband Paul Mersiovsky, plus six wonderful grandchildren, Jonathan, Jaimie, Brooke, Christian, Katie, and Sean. He is also survived by his brother, Ron and 3 nephews and brother-in-law, Michael Slater. Jim was by trade a civil engineer who came to Texas to work for Collins Radio on the communication antennas for the NASA moon launches and deep space program. He was a self-taught botanist and an enthusiastic, life-long naturalist with a penchant for teaching. Jim loved being out in the field looking for birds, plants, and flowers to identify. He will be missed by family, friends, and the extensive Master Naturalist community. A service to commemorate Jim’s life will be held at Christ Lutheran Church, 3001 Lovers Lane, Dallas TX on Monday evening, May 9, 2016 at 7 p.m. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to Briarwood Retreat Center, 670 Copper Canyon Road, Argyle, TX 76226 for a nature interpretation program to be established in his honor or to a charity of your choice.


  • Memorial Service

    Monday, May 9, 2016


James "Jim" Eddy Varnum

have a memory or condolence to add?

Sandra Skrei Mock

January 12, 2018

I just now learned of Jim's passing, and am so sorry to learn of your loss! I can only hope that he and Randy are having some interesting discussions on all things nature! Please know you and your family have my sympathies, belated as they are.

April 26, 2017

My heartfelt sympathy goes out to your family at this difficult time. Please find peace in knowing that God understands your grief and that he cares. (1 Peter 5:6,7)

Rick Joosten

May 12, 2016

Jim was a gentle and patient teacher who generously shared his deep knowledge, while at the same time modeling a passion for local nature that inspired others. I learned a lot from him and admired him. Even though I really didn't know Jim that deeply, his passing leaves a real and painful void, which I think speaks to how significant an impact his contributions were making in the lives of so many people, including mine. I'll miss him.

Karen Helms

May 11, 2016

Jim was great at teaching us what the plants were on hikes and was always there to answer questions and offer assistance. I will really miss him. I pray that God will bless you with peace and surround you with love.

Melanie Schuchart

May 10, 2016

I met Jim though iNaturalist so I thought it fitting to post a journal entry there for others that he followed to view. You can also see all the postings Jim provided and identified on this site as well as comments from others. We will all miss Jim and his passion for nature. I only hope that he shared some of his secret places with others in the community so his work will continue on.

May 9, 2016

This has been a long acquantainance. We lived close and went to the St. Paul Lutheran Church together for many years. Our children grew up together. His best gift was to support Stephanie for all the things she has done. Stephanie also supported him. This little lutheran church has been a gift to many and this church needed this couple. I was also impressed by his teaching mathmatics at a community college. Thankyou from Wayne and Charlotte Weirich.

Eva Castilla

May 9, 2016

I only met Jim once, but never forgot him. Very special man; beautiful energy ❤

Kimberlie Sasan

May 6, 2016

As someone still relatively new to ID'ing plants, I was surprised by Jim's casual and humorous way of teaching a newcomer. Despite his busy schedule, he made time to meet me and 2 others on a personal walk. I was happy to see him at the Tandy Hills Bioblitz just 2 days before his passing. Those two times were enough to impress upon me his warm and generous spirit. His loss is felt by even the newest of his students.

Mary Brown

May 5, 2016

I always think of Jim when the trout lilies begin to bloom in the spring and when we find gilgaes on the prairie. The Master Naturalist community has lost a great teacher.

Darell Bagley

May 5, 2016

Jim was always very generous and helpful when we needed advice on Blackland Prairie restoration. He left great legacy for all of us. I am grateful to have known him.