Jimmy Christ Pulioff
December 9, 1921 – February 20, 2018
Part of our Dad’s Story (told by his adoring children) December 9, 1921 – February 20, 2018
“Yet I am always with You; You hold me by my right hand. You guide me with Your counsel, and afterward You will take me into glory.” Psalm 73:23-24
Several months before dad went on to his final home, face-to-face with Jesus and reuniting with his beloved wife, we were talking about funerals. He said it was such a shame there were all those great pictures of the deceased, because they weren’t around to talk about them, answer questions, etc. I asked what he thought about having his Celebration of Life while he was still alive instead of after he died. He liked the idea, so we were planning it for sometime in the coming year. We’ll have that big celebration, but sadly without him. We need a month or two to address all the logistics, such as out of town family, and properly plan it. We will announce the date when it is set. In the meantime, let us tell you a story about our amazing dad/pa/pop/gpa.
So, where does one begin, to honorably capture the life of someone like dad? He was so much to so many… Let’s start with humility, the essence of who he was. He was humble, unassuming, and insistent that he “was not smart,.” Yet he was willing to have controversial conversations; in fact, loving them! With anyone! Anytime! ANYWHERE (sometimes to our chagrin, which he got a kick out of)! He wanted to know what you/everyone thought, about any and everything; and was anxious to tell you what he thought. He touched lives in a memorable way everywhere he went.
Dad was born Dimitry Christ Pulioff, in Portland, Oregon, but left to live in Sklithro, Greece when he was four years old. He loved to talk about how fortunate he was that his father left him with such a loving aunt and her family, and how they treated him and his brother George “like their own children.” He felt so blessed by their love and the wonderful (perfect in his opinion) life he had growing up. He recalled how hard it was to leave that idyllic life when he moved to the U.S. at sixteen; but then felt equally blessed to be lovingly integrated into his stepmother’s family when his father remarried in Portland. That is when dad was introduced to Podkrepa, the Bulgaro-Macadonian Association, where they socialized and he belonged until his passing.
He was known as Jim or Jimmy, and recently shared his frustration that he couldn’t remember what they called him in the village. Although he was Macedonian (we think), his village is in northern Greece, about 40 km from the current Macedonian border. At the railroad they loved to call him Jimmy the Greek, which they did up to his retirement. It never bothered him and we thought was kind of fun. The reason we say, “we think he was Macedonian” is because he often joked, “For all I know I’m a Turk since they invaded all through the centuries…” It was such a topic of intrigue that he recently asked to have his DNA checked. He got excited when he “spit into the tube,” saying he would finally know his heritage. Sadly, the results did not arrive before he passed onto glory.
Dad loved to converse, on ANY subject. WWII was a favorite he never tired of reading or talking about. More than well versed, he would never accept how extremely knowledgeable he was in that area as well as all other historical topics.
Serving in the Army was a great honor for him, but he expressed unworthiness of being called a veteran since he didn’t serve on the front lines. Hearing all our lives about being “stationed in Kidderminster, England” it was obvious how much his service meant. It was a dream come true when we visited there (and The Swan, a pub he frequented!) in 2005. It was more than he dreamed of when he was able to also visit Omaha Beach. He was excited about an upcoming trip with Ron & Pam, on the Freedom Flight to Washington D.C., which honors WWII veterans.
Mom. Since she died in 2011, dad’s daily comment was something like: “Last night I asked God to let me go be with your mother, and this morning I asked Him why I didn’t. I told Him I’m ready…” It took quite a while, but he finally accepted that he wasn’t here for himself, but for all the rest of us he impacted. Even though it was sad, it was wonderful listening to him talk about how “lucky” he was that mom married him. He missed her tremendously, but still chose to live his life fully until he could go be with her. That is the way mom would have wanted it and we are so grateful for it.
He loved people and marveled that people would “take the time to talk to” him – as if you had a choice, right? As the saying goes, “he never met a stranger.” And as children, we remember him stopping his work (spading, trimming, etc.) to talk to anyone who walked by. If it was someone he knew (a neighbor) the visit could become drawn-out so poor mom had to be the “meany” and pull him away so he wouldn’t be late for work (the railroad). He knew the people at Fred Meyer, Ace Hardware, Safeway, Costco, McDonald’s, Franz Bakery Outlet, the “ATM” store (private joke!), Home Depot, and anywhere else he shopped. He knew all his doctors and all their staffs, and they all knew him. In fact, he knew everyone on the elevator before he or they got off when he went to any appointment. And, as many have commented, he made every single one feel special. He especially loved children, being fascinated when they would smile at him and/or reach out their hands to him.
Talking about God was another favorite topic. He read and read about God, Jesus, heaven, etc. and loved discussing it all anytime he could. He asked questions and pondered the responses. Questioned how anyone could look around at the beauty of creation and not believe in God, the creator. It made him sad that some could not see “what was right before their eyes,” and didn’t hesitate to engage them in that discussion. He was fascinated with stories of people who had died and gone to heaven then been revived to tell about it. He enjoyed speculating on what heaven was going to be like. We cannot be sad that he is now finding out!
Active would be another perfect descriptor. Even though he always liked to start out his day a bit slowly, at the kitchen table with breakfast, he pretty much didn’t stop all day once he got up from there. He had several jobs before going into the Army in 1942, including landscaping, which stayed with him to the end. After being discharged in 1945 he worked (mostly swing shift) at the railroad (30 years) and simultaneously did landscaping six-seven days a week, for up to 20 customers! In the spring and summer (up to 2017) he also managed to hand turn, prep, plant, and care for a vegetable garden (a 50 ft.x50 ft. for 16 years). He enjoyed travel too. He and mom took a month long, 1,000+ mi. honeymoon, going to Canada then the Grand Canyon, Mexico, California and the red woods. There were the wonderful Sunday drives, visits to relatives all over Oregon and Washington, and some great train trips. Some ventures included a Mediterranean cruise & trip to Greece in 1973; trips to visit family in Montana, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Toronto; Hawaii with Esther & Bob; and time in Arizona with Uncle Manford & Aunt Barb. There were bus trips to Reno, Mt. St. Helens, and other places with their Going Like 60’s group. In 2005 we went on a 44-day “road trip” through Europe, ending with a family reunion in Skilthro. No one we met in England, Ireland, Scotland, France, Switzerland, Italy, or his family in Greece could believe his age, all commenting on his youthful look and energy. In 2011 he went with Linda to the Dominican Republic to see his grandson at work in his ministry; a therapeutic distraction as he grieved mom’s passing. This was different from any of his other experiences, giving him more stories to tell. He celebrated his 90th birthday in the D.R. – to the amazement of everyone as they insisted he didn’t even look 70! Family was astonished by how little he had changed when we took a second family trip to Sklithro in 2015. He visited another grandson and family in Colorado in 2017, even climbing Pikes Peak! He stayed active and did not look his age up to his last breath. He amazed everyone he met, including those caring for him in the hospital during his last days.
For many years mom and dad enjoyed the company of a group who met at McDonald’s every week. This gradually became a group of only men that dad eagerly looked forward to every Wednesday. He pressed them for their stories, and took personal pictures, newspaper or magazine articles, and his stories to share. He hated when one of them could not make it or (worse) died, saying he greatly missed them because they were like family to him. They loved him – they told us so – and will miss him terribly and remember him fondly when he comes up in conversation …about ANY topic…as we all will. Dad lived a very full life, living alone in his own home up to the very end. Debra blessed him by cooking and joining him for dinner and giving him companionship several days a week. Otherwise, he was independent and exceptionally healthy, living life to the fullest up to the massive stroke that left him unconscious on Feb. 17 and sleeping peacefully until he departed this life…in his sleep…just the way he always hoped he would go. You just can’t get much better than that.
There are so many more aspects to dad than those mentioned here. Some are universal (his smile), and some are individual (his very personal, perfectly written cards or one-on-one experiences). Please feel free to share them with us – we’d appreciate your cherished memories.
We don’t pretend he was perfect, but we all agree he was incredible. We love our father, father-in-law, grandfather, great-grandfather, brother, uncle, and friend with a profound and abiding love. As he did with mom, we will remember him in our hearts, thoughts, and endless memories…and our dreams if we’re lucky.
“This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24 Dad will be profoundly missed by Linda (daughter) & David, Debra (daughter) & Mark, Ron (son) & Pam, Dawn (granddaughter), Chris (grandson) & Kirstin, Travis (grandson) & Tati, Stephanie (granddaughter) & Mike, Achindo (grandson) & Megan, Addy (great granddaughter), Tommy (great grandson), Esther (sister in law), and many other family members and friends near and far. We all await the day we join him in heaven!
“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes…on what is unseen…since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18
Thank you for your prayers and love. In lieu of flowers, please make a (tax deductible) donation to either Fountain of Hope (his grandson's ministry) and mail to 4536 NE 116th Ave. Portland, OR 97220 or Wounded Warrior Project.
We will celebrate his life at Podkrepa Hall, 2116 N Killingsworth, Portland, OR 97217 on June 23 from 1-4pm. We will share memories and make a toast at 2pm. PLEASE join us & share your stories!
- A Celebration of Jimmys Life Saturday, June 23, 2018
Jimmy Christ Pulioff
have a memory or condolence to add?ADD A MEMORY
November 13, 2018
I only met your father about 2 years ago. And that was at Resurrection Lutheran Church. He had life will smile and always sat near we may be a few rows behind. And I introduced myself and we took up a little small talk. My name is Sheila Schmitz and I have Parkinsons that's not what it was attracted came to me. I was Irish and he was Greek or turk whatever you say anyway my husband had some heart problems around Christmas time last year and with one thing and another I seem to have lost touch with your father. I hadn't forgotten him however
March 7, 2018
How blessed I am to have had this man as my father-in -law for 40 years. He made me laugh and cry through out our time together. He taught me many things over the years, gardening, how to drink Ouzo, how to play Pinochle, and most importantly, he shared his stories of the old country. I could listen for hours and from those stories came a strong desire to go and visit his village. I loved him very much and will miss him for the remainder of my life.
March 5, 2018
My deepest condolences...
Jimmy and my dad were friends from childhood. He will be greatly missed.
February 26, 2018
My condolences to Jimmys family! He was truly an old school gentleman! I'll never forget his smile that always came with a cheerful greeting. RIP
Jimmy-you'll be missed. Charmaine Shook
February 25, 2018
Have wonderful memories of Jimmy. He was always so kind
and freindly. The many memories of Podkrepa and the
many picnics we all use to attend. Those were the good old days.
My deepest sympathies to to all the beloved family.
I hope to attend the memorial service.
My love and prayers to you all
John and Mary (Bencich) Keith
February 25, 2018
Good memories from the past. Old family ties to the Bencich's. A real friendly gentleman!
FROM THE FAMILY
IN THE CARE OF