JAN. 10, 1936 | NOV. 10, 2013

Highland man loved Christmas

2013-11-29T00:00:00Z Highland man loved ChristmasBY CHARLES F. HABER Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
November 29, 2013 12:00 am  • 

The virtues of serving God and country came second nature to James Courtright.

For the past decade, the Christmas decorations in his yard always took first place in Highland's decoration contest.

"He just loved Christmas with a passion," said his son-in-law, Sam Widdall.

Thousands of motorists and pedestrians who slowly went past the corner of 41st Street and O'Day Drive.

James Courtright, 77, of Highland, died Nov. 10.

During his life, he worked as a police officer, sold tires, was a data technician and drove a limousine to the airports.

Widdall, who is married to Courtright's daughter, Lorraine, said they moved there in 1986, along with Courtright and his wife of 57 years, Marlene.

And the decorations soon followed.

"We just kept on doing more and more each year," Widdall said.

After the 2001 attacks, Widdall and Courtright started thinking of making people smile -- so they took turns standing along the curb dressed as Santa.

Widdall noted that someone even started a Facebook page, "The Santa on 41st Street: Hero of Highland."

Widdall continued as Santa until a couple years ago, Widdall said.

Courtright loved family visits to the world's largest Christmas store, Bronner's, in Frankenmuth, Mich.

He also loved going to church and was a very social person who could make friends with anyone on Earth, Widdall said.

A veteran of the U.S. Army, Courtright was commander of American Legion Post 180 in Highland.

Widdall said the annual Christmas decorations will continue on. Sadly, this year's display will include a recognition in Courtright's memory.

"One thing we are extremely grateful for is that he is not suffering and is spending Christmas in Heaven," Lorraine Courtright said.

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