James Edwin Gaba
September 10, 1930 – February 10, 2020
Jim was a husband, father, grandfather, and brother who joined his wife, Paula, and son, Eddie, in heaven at age 89, early Monday morning, February 10, 2020. Graveside Service with Military Honors will be held Monday, February 24, 2020, at 10:00 am at Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver, Colorado. A Celebration of Life will follow at Shalom Park in Aurora, Colorado, at 12:00. Lunch will follow. Born in Big Sandy on September 10, 1930, to Martin Francis and Lillie Ariel Gaba, Jim was a true man from Tennessee. His mother died when he was 2 years old. Jim, his three brothers and one sister were sent to live with his father’s foster parents, Uncle Will and Aunt Ora Vandyke on their farm near Alamo, Tennessee. Times were difficult due to the Great Depression. Jim learned to work hard on the farm. He embraced Uncle Will’s values of being a Methodist and Republican until the day he died. One of the reasons Jim became a doctor was because of his Uncle Will’s blindness. Jim graduated from Alamo Public High School in 1947, and later earned a Bachelor of Science Degree from Memphis State University in 1951. He completed his medical training at the University of Tennessee College of Medicine in 1954. Before he left Tennessee, Jim heard a young Elvis Presley sing at a movie theater in Memphis when the projector stopped working.
Jim moved to Winston-Salem, North Carolina for his internship in medicine at City Hospital. Once in the operating room, Jim looked over at the assisting nurse anesthetist and thought she was beautiful. After a 4-month courtship, Jim asked Paula Creasy to marry him and she said, “How about June 4th?” They were married on June 4, 1957, at the First Baptist Church in Clemmons, North Carolina. Their 63-year marriage is a great legacy to their family.
In 1957, Jim enlisted as a physician in the Air Force, and was stationed at the Air Force Missile Test Center in Coco Beach, Florida. One of Jim’s significant moments while stationed at Coco Beach was being asked by the commanding officer for medical officer clearance to launch the first satellite-bearing rocket from Cape Canaveral which was developed by Dr. Wernher von Braun. Seconds later, Jim heard the tremendous roar of the rocket’s ignition. After leaving the Air Force, the family, with new baby Kanda in tow, moved to Winfield, Alabama where Jim joined in his brother-in-law, Edwin Couch’s, large medical practice. They worked night and day. Jim joined the Freemasons during this time. His son, Eddie, was born in Winfield. Later, the family moved to Birmingham so Jim could complete a residency in surgery at Carraway Methodist Hospital. His youngest daughter, Taryn, was born at Carraway. They returned to Winfield and Jim added Yogi Bear, a St. Bernard, to the family. Although they enjoyed their home surrounded by the woods, doctors recommended that the family move to a drier climate due to Kanda’s severe allergies. The family moved to Artesia, New Mexico, in 1968, where Jim immediately settled in as the town’s new surgeon. He loved living in Artesia. Even though they were far from relatives, the family embraced the strong community and the First United Methodist Church. Jim was a regular Sunday School teacher and joined the Artesia School Board. Later, the town of Artesia voted Jim Father of the Year. Jim’s favorite football team was the Artesia Bulldogs and Eddie was the backup quarterback. He also loved the Dallas Cowboys and Roger Staubach. His favorite baseball team was the St. Louis Cardinals. Another St. Bernard, Heidi Bear, was added to the family, while Jim also loved his last dog, Pepper, a Schnauzer. Jim carved out time for deer hunting with Eddie in New Mexico. Jim and Paula enjoyed traveling. They took the kids on fabulous trips to Acapulco, Canada, and Hawaii. Numerous Christmases were spent driving to Clemmons, North Carolina to spend the holiday with Paula’s family. Jim also took one month off and drove the family to Yellowstone, Montana, Vancouver, Portland, Los Angeles, and Mexico. In 1979, at age 47, Jim was stricken with a brain aneurism and flown to Ontario, Canada, where the famous neurosurgeon, Dr. Charles Drake, successfully operated on him. Jim recovered and fondly remembered visiting Taryn at Michigan’s Interlocken Arts Camp that summer. He was completely healed from the surgery thanks to thousands of prayers around the world. In 1985, Jim and Paula relocated to Kansas City, Kansas, where he worked as an Occupational Physician. Jim and Paula had a strong desire for mission work and joined the Christian Medical and Dental Society. They completed 14 medical mission trips around the world. Jim always said “We are our brother’s keeper.”
In l991 Jim and Paula moved to Colorado Springs where he secured another Occupational Physician position with Emergicare. They continued with their mission work, enjoyed grandchildren, taught at the First United Methodist Church, and built a house.
Jim eventually retired and was honored with a wonderful celebration. He said he couldn’t believe he was paid to do what he loved to do. In 2008, Jim had extensive back surgery, which eventually led to Jim and Paula’s relocation at Shalom Park in Aurora, Colorado. Jim joined several groups including the choir. Jim not only loved being a surgeon, he spent countless hours talking about the Civil War, WWI and WWII. He truly appreciated history. Jim lived an incredible, full life and left a lasting legacy for his family.
He was preceded in death by Paula, his wife of 63 years, and his brothers William Gaba, Grayson Gaba, Wilton Gaba, Bobby Gaba, sister Eloise Gaba Couch, parents Martin and Lillie Gaba, and his son, Eddie. Survivors include Jim’s sister, Carolyn Gaba Striping of Knoxville, Tennessee, daughter Kanda Gaba Pullara and son-in-law, Scott Pullara of Centennial, CO, daughter Taryn Gaba Logan and son-in-law, Lynn Logan of Lakewood, CO, daughter-in-law, Sara (Gaba) Potecha (Reed), of Fisherville, Kentucky, grandchildren, Larisa (Nate), Matthew (Jacky), Gwenyth (Leo), Aubry, Shannan, Joye, Lindsay, Luke and Lauren, sisters-in-law, Julia Creasy Reed and Nanette Creasy Spainhour, brothers-in-law, Bill Creasy and Bing Creasy, and many nieces, nephews, great-nieces, and great-nephews. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made in Jim’s name to Shalom Park or shalompark.org.
14800 E. Bellview Drive, Aurora, Colorado
10:00 am - 10:30 am
Fort Logan National Cemetery
4400 W. Kenyon Ave.
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
14800 E Belleview Dr
1:00 pm - 2:30 pm
14800 E Belleview Dr