James “Bubba” Hailey, 53, formerly a long time resident of Shandon and Paso Robles, died at his home in Montana after a brave two year battle with brain cancer. Bubba was born in Paso Robles, graduated from Shandon elementary and Paso Robles High School. He lived in the area most of his life, making and keeping many loyal friends. He was interested in and interesting to people of all ages and walks of life. He would literally give you the shirt off his back, but would enjoy doing it even more if you would trade him something for it!
He grew up multi-talented; creative in construction, an accomplished athlete, horseman, roper, sportsman, poet, raconteur and musically inclined, but perhaps best known for his amazing ability to train and tame animals especially his beloved dogs. He had pet ravens, magpies and peacocks as well as wounded wild birds and animals he would nurse back to health. In addition to being a steadfast hard worker and entrepreneur he always found time for enthusiastically pursuing new interests and projects. He was exacting but could engage and teach even the most disinterested person until they were as excited as he about what he was doing. The one exception was the unicycle he built at age 12. He was the only one who could ride it!
He took on his battle with cancer with the same spirit even when his initial prognosis was so grim. He believed if what he tried didn’t help him it might help someone else, insisting he had led a good life and had done everything he wanted to do. This prompted one dear friend who had been his baby sitter to say, “No wonder he feels that way. Bubba did more before he was ten than most people do in a lifetime!”
He was an engaged participant in his treatment, adopting habits and suggestions for the best outcome, becoming friends with his doctor, striking up encouraging conversations with depressed strangers in the waiting rooms, always leaving people smiling. Bubba had the ability to light up any room he entered and continued to be positive to the end always thinking of the welfare of others before his own. He will be sadly missed but will always be with those who knew and loved him, leaving us with fond and fun memories and an example of a too short but full life well lived.
Survivors include his devoted dog, Dickens; wife Joli; step-daughters Emilee and Stephanie; mother, Merna McMillan Gentile, best friend and stepfather, Lance Gentile; father, James L. Hailey; sister Jamie and her husband, Bruce Kies; sister Jill Gentile; sister Jackie and her husband, Bill Jackson; stepsister Diane Breneman and her husband Todd Rohr; nephews Monty Renfrow, Luke Kies, James Jackson, Ben and Lance Deleissegues; nieces Hailey Jackson, Libby and Annie Rohr; aunts Donajean Sinton, Janet Linfoot, and Cinde Barthelmess; uncle Eddie Dossey; first cousins, John Loftus, Janet Marie Deegan, Cork Linfoot, Kerry Dermody and their families as well as numerous other caring close relatives and dear friends in the area.
He was preceded in death by his “famous” dogs Goeber and Checkers; a baby sister; his maternal grandparents Don and Alta McMillan with whom he spent many hours as a child; paternal grandparents James B. Hailey and Berenice Dossey; beloved companions and first cousins Mike Bermingham and Don Loftus and many other friends and relatives who had a positive impact on his life.
The family wants to thank the staff of MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas especially Dr. David Kornguth, for his friendship and extra healthy year and a half of life Bubba had beyond what others predicted.
Condolences to the family can be sent in care of Lance and Merna Gentile, P. O. Box 1908, Goleta, CA 93116 or e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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