HAMPSTEAD — James William Vaugh passed away on Wednesday, October 27, 2021 after a 15-year battle with Parkinson’s Disease, due to exposure to the defoliant, Agent Orange, while serving in Vietnam. Jim fought the disease gallantly to the end, never letting it define him. In the last months of his life he was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML).
Jim was born in Burke, New York, on May 5, 1942, the son of Kenneth and Eunice (Sweet)
Vaugh. He graduated from Chateaugay Central School, New York, and served as Class
President in the great class of 1960.
In 1964, Jim enlisted in the US Army and after Army ASA School, he served a year in Germany.
In 1965, he traveled to Sitges, Spain (on the Costa del Sol). While there, he met his future wife,
Pattie, who was there on vacation from Northern Ireland.
In April 1966, he graduated from US Army Infantry OCS and was promoted to 2 nd Lieutenant and
after further training in Ft. Hollabird, Maryland and Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, he deployed to
Vietnam in October 1966. He served two tours of duty (1966-68) and returned to the US 21-
months later as a Captain, at which time he was honorably discharged from service.
Jim married Marina Patricia (Pattie) Watson of Belfast, Northern Ireland, on August 3, 1968, in
Pattie’s family parish, St. Paul’s (Anglican) Church of Ireland. Over the years, he enjoyed many
visits to Pattie’s homeland, and embraced her family as his own, and they him. After the couple
became engaged, his maternal Grandmother Sweet remarked that he had gone “home” to find
a bride. She went on to explain that her mother was born in the same County as Pattie and had
emigrated with her family from Ireland in 1862. This contributed to Jim’s lifelong interest and
extensive research in genealogy.
Jim was a loving husband, father, grandfather, colleague, and friend. As a father, he was proud
of his son’s work ethic and character. He especially cherished the time spent with his
grandchildren, Emery and James. He took great pleasure in following their accomplishments in
school and sports. He never missed an opportunity to attend one of their soccer games. As
Jim’s illness progressed, the children visited often showing great love and compassion for their
Papa, as they listened to his stories, poured over photo albums, played card games, shared
laughter, and wheeled him around the neighborhood in his “chariot.” Throughout his life Jim
exuded joy and an abundance of good will and he never met a stranger. His family and friends will remember him for his loyalty and integrity, his gift for telling a good joke, his indomitable spirit, and his enduring love for his hometown-Chateaugay, New York.
After graduation from SUNY at Potsdam, NY, Jim entered on duty as a Special Agent for the FBI. His assignments included Louisville, Kentucky; Detroit, Michigan; Washington, DC; and Wilmington, North Carolina. Jim retired from the FBI in November 1998, and was proud to have served his country for a combined total of 33 Years.
After his retirement from the FBI in 1998, Jim founded his company, James Vaugh
Investigations, and conducted investigations throughout the United States. He contracted with
and conducted background investigations for the FBI, Department of Justice, Homeland
Security, and the Department of State. He also contracted with the Wilmington Housing
Authority, NC, as a security advisor.
He is survived by his devoted wife of 53 years, Pattie; his son, Ian, and daughter-in-law, Kelly;
two grandchildren: granddaughter Emery, and grandson James, all of Wilmington, North
Carolina; his brother, Lynn (Cheryl) of Ogdensburg, New York; his brother-in-law James Watson
(Mena) of Ballymena, Northern Ireland; and sister-in-law Jacqueline McClelland (Donald) of
Belfast, Northern Ireland, and a special “sister” cousin Elaine (Hunter) O’Connor of Chateaugay,
New York. He is also survived by several nieces and nephews.
Jim was an active member and former Senior Warden of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church,
Hampstead. Jim did not fear death because he knew that a good and loving God awaited his
soul. This is a gift of God to each and every one of us.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday, November 19, 2021, at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, 107 Deerfield Road, Hampstead, NC. Jim’s ashes will be buried at a later date
in the family plot in the North Burke Cemetery, Burke, NY, where he will be the 5th generation of Vaughs to be interred.
If you would like to honor the memory of Jim, the family has requested that memorial
donations be made to one of the following organizations: Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, 107
Deerfield Drive, Hampstead, NC 28443, or the Society of Former Special Agents of the F.B.I.,
3717 Fettler Park, Dumfries, VA 22025.