1918 – 2015

NAPLES, Fla. — Colonel James G. “Jim” Bouchles, U.S. Army (Ret) of Auburn, and Naples, Fla., passed away Tuesday, June 2.

He is survived by his devoted wife of 34 years, Alexandra “Alex” Bouchles, also of Auburn and Naples, Fla.; and his four loving children, Richard “Sandy” Heldman and wife, Kristen, of Buckfield, Laurie Reckendorf and her husband, Thomas, of Pemaquid, Jenny Gruenstrass and husband, Steve, of Cos Cob, Conn., and Michael “Bo” Heldman and wife, Michelle, of Collierville, Tenn. He was known as “Grampy B” to his seven grandchildren, Alexander “Bump” Heldman, Katie Kaufmann, Ben Hasseman, Matthew Heldman, Ryan Gruenstrass, Hunter Gruenstrass and Madison Heldman; and great-granddaughter, Ellie Kaufmann. He is also survived by four sisters, Athena Harkins, Loraine Hering, Ann Deletetsky and husband, Mickey, and former U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe and husband and former governor of Maine, John McKernan; and sister-in-law, Martha “Punky” Kelley and husband, Jim. His surviving two brothers are Charlie Bouchles and wife, Connie, and John Bouchles.

Jim was born in Auburn in 1918 and graduated from Edward Little High School. He attended the University of Maine at Orono and Fisk University in Tennessee. Jim was a retired colonel in the U.S. Army, where he served and fought valiantly in the South Pacific Theater during World War II.

Upon returning from the war, he founded Gee & Bee Sporting Goods in Auburn, and was the owner for 35 years.

Jim had many lifetime achievements, including being an inductee into the 1990 Hall of Fame by the Edward Little Alumni Association, 1992 Auburn-Lewiston Sports Hall of Fame and 1998 Maine Baseball Hall of Fame, as well as being named Auburn’s Citizen of the Year in 2000. He started the ELHS Grandstand Club, which raised scholarship funds for local student athletes, served on the Board of Directors of the Auburn-Lewiston YMCA for over 27 years and was a top fundraiser. He continued his fundraising efforts for the Naples YMCA in Florida.


Jim was a longtime member and chairman of the Auburn Civil Service Commission.

He was the police commissioner of Auburn, a board member of the American Red Cross, past president and board member of the Police Athletic League, member of the Auburn Parks and Recreation Committee, a longtime board member of the Villages of Emerald Bay in Naples, Fla., where he resided since 1989. He was also a proud member of the Shriners.

Jim’s lifelong interest in baseball began after playing summer ball and first base for ELHS and coaching many teams, including the semi-pro Bates Manufacturing Co. team for 10 seasons. He coached the New Auburn Legion Post 153 baseball team for 22 seasons, which produced many outstanding baseball players, some of whom went on to play in the major leagues and were later inducted into the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame. His well-known reputation for winning tournaments and producing talented ballplayers lead to his becoming a local scout for the Atlanta Braves franchise, but everyone knew him best as a loyal and dedicated New York Yankees fan.

Jim and Alex enjoyed traveling the world and spending their summers living in Maine and winters living in Florida.

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