SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — James “Jim” Rockwell Garner, 75, formerly of Portland, passed away peacefully wednesday, Jan. 3, in Scottsdale, Ariz.

He was born in Barre, Vt. on Oct. 21, 1942, the son of Dr. William C. Garner and Edith (Harris) Garner. Jim joined the Navy in 1961, where he served on the USS John C. Calhoun (SSBN-630). In 1972, while on shore duty in Honolulu, he met Nohea Silva; they married the following year, and their love story continued to unfold until his death.

Jim retired from the Navy in 1981 as an electronics technician chief master (ETCM). In 1981, Jim enrolled at the University of Hawaii’s Manoa campus, earning his BFA. He received his MFA from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, in 1987. Teaching was in his blood: His father received a Ph.D. from Harvard, serving as president of Dean College in Franklin, Mass. Jim’s mother held a master’s degree from Tufts University, where his maternal grandmother also received her bachelor’s degree.

In 1988, Jim began his 13-year career as a beloved art teacher at Lewiston High School, where he taught ceramics and sculpture. He was a mentor for countless students who struggled academically, socially and sometimes emotionally. “Mr. G,” as he was affectionately known, knew intuitively when a student needed more than just art guidance. His classroom was a safe space where teens could be themselves while tapping into their talents.

Jim enjoyed gliding across Monmouth’s Cochnewagon Lake in his trusty canoe and playing the acoustic guitar for former students who visited him with their own children. He was passionate about politics and concerned about social injustice. Through his art and guidance, he made the world a beautiful and more tolerable place.

Jim is survived by his wife, Nohea Garner; their son, Nathan J. Garner and his wife, Jessica Chorney-Garner; his beloved niece, Lorinda Garner; brothers, Edwin (Ned) C. Garner and his wife, Barbara A. Buerger; and Timothy F. Garner; his sister, Jean Pope and her husband, Ralph; special sisters-in-law, Judith Hanes Garner and Victoria Garner; and the many students who will miss him dearly.

Jim was predeceased by his parents and brother, Nathan C. Garner.

“Unable are the loved to die, for love is immortality.” – Emily Dickinson

James Rockwell Garner

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