James “Jimmy” Rodolfos

May 30, 2007

James “Jimmy” Rodolfos

JAMES “JIMMY” RODOLFOS – of Woburn, Wednesday, May 30th, beloved husband of Fay E. (White)Rodolfos. Loving brother of Theresa Andres of Chelmsford. Devoted uncle of many nieces and nephews, great nieces and nephew and great great nieces and nephews, along with his very dear cousins. Relatives and friends are invited to calling hours at the Lynch-Cantillon Funeral Home, 263 Main Street, Woburn on Saturday, June 2nd from 1 to 4 p.m. Funeral Service and Interment are private. At the request Jimmy’s family please omit flowers. Donations may be made in Jimmy’s memory to the Woburn High School Scholarship Fund, PO Box 202, Woburn, MA 01801.

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James “Jimmy” Rodolfos of Woburn, an extraordinarily gifted artist who had been paralyzed from the neck down since the age of sixteen, passed away on Thursday, May 31st at Kindred Hospital in Peabody, surrounded by his family and closest friend. The beloved husband of Fay (White ) Rodolfos for the past fifty years, he was seventy years of age.

Born and raised in Woburn, he was the son of the late Anthony and Elizabeth (Poulizzi) Rodolfos . As a youngster he lived in the Hammond Square section of the city and attended the Hansen School, Jr. High and then Woburn High School.

Writer Marie Coady interviewed Jimmy and his wife Fay ten years ago and wrote the following: “On a hot day in July 1953, Jimmy Rodolfos headed down to Horn Pond to cool off. The soon-to-be seventeen year-old dove from the platform at the old Horn Pond Ice Company landing (no longer there) at the end of Beacon Street and took an invigorating swim. He then headed off to work at Jerry’s Luncheonette on Main Street. Later that evening, Jimmy hitched up with a group of friends, went back to the same spot and once again dove from the platform along with his friends. But this time Jimmy’s dive into the cool waters of Horn Pond changed his life forever. Jimmy said, ‘We were in the same spot as I’d been that morning – near the ice house section off Beacon Street – and I just stripped off my things and dove back in at about the same spot as earlier in the day. But this time I hit bottom and knew right away something was very wrong.’ It was obvious to friends that Jimmy was in trouble, and they rushed to get help. Police arrived and transported him to Choate Hospital on Warren Avenue where New Horizons is now. “ I spent a few nights at the Choate, but there was very little they could do for me. I had broken three vertebrae in my neck and everything from there down was paralyzed. In 1953, the technology was not the same as it is today. There was very little they could do for me”.

Jimmy Rodolfos went from being a high school track star to a paraplegic in one fleeting tick of the clock. He said, “I’ve spent my whole life in Woburn. Before I moved to Eastern Avenue, I lived on Hovey Street. There’s a parking lot there now where my house was back then. I attended the Hansen School, which was right across the street and was involved in YMCA activities at the old” Y” where the antique store is now. I played basketball for the Y, and ran track and cross country for Woburn High and had just been elected class president at the end of my junior year. I was supposed to take office in my senior year, but I never got to go back to school. After the accident, I continued to be interested in Woburn High School sports. I’ve been to every football game since I was let out of the hospital. I was even given the game ball on two occasions, once in 1954 and again in 1973. I still have them in a display case. They mean a lot to me”.

After a six month stay at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Brighton, Jimmy was transferred to the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission Facility in Canton where he not only furthered his education but also met the woman with whom he was destined to spend rest of his life.

“I spent two and a half years at Massachusetts Rehabilitation Facility in Canton. I met my wife Fay there. She had gotten polio about two weeks before my accident and came to Canton in August 1954. Fay’s from the Salem-Beverly area”.

Fay, who is also wheelchair bound, is never further away than a shout from Jimmy. She is more mobile than Jimmy, in fact, she is Jimmy’s arms and legs, does all the driving and helps Jimmy with many of the tasks he can’t perform on his own.

“I graduated from Canton in 1955,’ Jimmy continued, ‘stayed another year and returned home in 1956. Fay and I got married in 1957”. Jimmy is also self-sufficient, supporting himself by the sale of his art. “I was always interested in art. Before the accident, I did a lot of poster work for the YMCA and Woburn High activities. As part of my occupational therapy I saw other handicapped people painting with a brush in their mouth, so I thought I’d try it. I had some art lessons through the Canton school, more art lessons at home arranged by the Mass. Rehab Commission and even some private tutoring. I paint mostly in oils. Since August 1962, I’ve been the first American to become a member of the International Association of Mouth and Foot Painting Artists. Their headquarters are in Liechtenstein. They arrange exhibitions all over the world. In many countries, they have a publishing office. What they do is reproduce our paintings on greeting cards that are sold all over the world. There are many artists in the group, and you never know which paintings will be chosen to be reproduced. I sent one out as a possible design to be used for gift wrap, and it was picked up as a design for a Christmas card and just published in Singapore. I did the painting several years ago, and it was just chosen. Since becoming a member of the Association, I have given lectures and demonstrations on how I paint. I was also one of the founding members of the Woburn Guild of Artists”.

Jimmy’s paintings have been on exhibit in Athens, Italy, Spain and Austria, and he and Fay have attended some of the exhibitions in Canada and the United States. His favorite subjects were landscapes at different times of the year, seascapes and still life. He mainly used oil colors for his paintings, and enjoyed great success with his works. The media also took notice of him and issued regular reports about him.

Jimmy was an ardent Woburn High football fan. He appealed to the Woburn Chat during the first game he ever missed. It began when Woburn’s number one fan sent out a plea for help. It seems that after more than 50 years of being on the sidelines at every Woburn football game, he found he didn’t have any way of getting to the game. Jimmy hadn’t missed a game since he was released from the hospital and was such a familiar figure on the sidelines that he had been the recipient of the game ball on two occasions. Those game balls meant the world to Jimmy and that’s why he sent out a call to the Chat for “football reports.” He was kept up to date on the missed games by his many friends on the Chat.

Kind, generous, wonderful sense of humor, devoted, loving, and a most incredibly courageous man are the words that many of his family and friends have used to describe Jimmy. He received many wonderful gifts along his journey and his two incredibly greatest gifts where that of his wife Fay, with whom he shared close to fifty years and his astonishing artistic abilities that he has shared with us all.

In addition to his wife Fay, he is survived by his sister, Theresa Andres of Chelmsford, many nieces and nephews, great nieces and nephew and great great nieces and nephews, along with his very dear cousins.

Relatives and friends are invited to calling hours at the Lynch-Cantillon Funeral Home, 263 Main Street, Woburn on Saturday, June 2nd from 1 to 4 p.m. Funeral Service and Interment are private.

At the request Jimmy’s family please omit flowers. Donations may be made in Jimmy’s memory to the Woburn High School Scholarship Fund, PO Box 202, Woburn, MA 01801.


20 Entries

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  1. I’ll always remember my favorite neighbors! Loved visiting, helping anyway I could. Shoveling snow was my favorite plus the gardening with your parents.

  2. Fay,
    What can I say, but, heartfelt sympathies. Robert and I will miss him dearly. I still havn’t gotten over the shock of it yet.

  3. Dear Aunt Fay,
    Time sure passes fast. Mike and I want to express our prayers for you at this time. We are so sorry to hear of Uncle Jimmy’s passing. I wish you all my prayers and love to make it through your time of need. God knows best and Uncle Jim is in the Best Hands now. We love you and are thinking and praying for you. Love Betty

  4. Bev (White), Tom, Ashley and Courtney Barrett,

    Aunt Faye,I can’t believe that Uncle Jimmy has passed. We are deeply saddened to hear this. We will miss him and think of all the fun times at the house at Christmas time and the bbq’s. Aunt Faye you are in my thoughts and prayers. I love you.

  5. We only knew Jimmy and Fay
    from a distance, in time and
    miles, but we treasured our
    contacts over the decades.
    So many accomplishments, so much talent for one lifetime.
    Our prayers continue.
    -Ginny and Roy Overholtzer
    Lansdale, Pa.

  6. Uncle Jimmy was a second father to me. I feel fortunate to have known him and loved him as a father.
    I’m glad I was there with him, along with one one my brothers, one of my sisters and his best
    friend since the 1st grade, when he left this world. He is now at peace and I’m sure he is with my grandparents and my father.

    Uncle Jimmy and Aunt Fay helped shape the person I am today, and I will miss him deeply.

  7. virginia sage edwards
    “”””jimmy & FAY””””

  8. Judy & Al
    Goodbye dear friend…..till we meet/eat again.
    Fay you have our eternal love and support.
    God Bless.

  9. Fay:

    He will be geniunely missed, and many hearts are saddened today. You will be in our constand thoughts and prayers as you go forth without your “Jimmy”. May God’s hand offer the light through the storm. Both of you touched our lives and I hope one day to see “my friend” again. Love and prayers, Pamela and Don Payne

  10. Faye, Our prayers are with you. I will always remember Jim as one of the bravest men I know. Jack and I were so privilaged to reconnect with him at the reunion and to meet you. You are a very special lady and I pray that will continue to take care of yourself. God Bless you.
    Lorraine and Jack Heffner

  11. Fay and Family,
    We are so sorry to hear of Jimmy’s passing and our prayers are with you and your family as you adjust to your life without this great man. This world was made better with Jimmy in it, and Heaven just got a little bit more special with a new Angel going home. God Bless you all. Nancy Haverland and Carol Simmons, Cincinnati, Ohio

  12. Dave Ryan capt. of the track team 1952
    I will always remember Jimmy the runner and jimmy the dancer at the YMCA AND jimmy the artist!! Truly a great person!!!

  13. Dear Fay, Family, Friends,
    Jimmy will be missed by many and no one will miss him more than you, Fay. But possibly Freddie and Joan will be grieving as deeply or nearly so as you. You were his angels who kept him who he was, who gave him care 24/7, who were the “wind beneath his wings”. He has left the world a better place. He showed us what Jesus taught. He taught us to love each other as he loved and cared for all without judgment as reached out to all, including those who were rejected by others. A true Christian supported by angels named Fay, Freddie, and Joan. May he be at peace surrounded by God’s love and the love of others who went before him.

  14. Dear Fay,
    I am so sad to hear of Jimmy’s passing. I’ll be forever grateful that we had an opportunity to reconnect, and that I was able to bring Rory over for a visit. My parents proudly displayed two of his paintings, and Jimmy was always a presence in our house. He will be missed.

  15. Dear Fay,
    It’s so hard to believe Jim has passed on.We will miss him deeply. I will always cherish the fond memories he has left with us. The fun we had at family get togethers, the days at York Beach, ME, the Clam days, all the parties you two planned, and just sitting and talking together. We remember how he was always so up and never complained. He made the best of the situation he was in. That was remarkable in itself.
    It is a blessing to have the video you two had made. Our family has watched it many times and will continue now and then as time goes on. It has been an inspiration.
    Our thoughts and prayers remain with you. God bless you, we love you, Min and Doug

  16. Dolores Mobilia,
    Dear Fay, I’m so happy that I had a chance to meet you and to become reacquainted with Jimmy these last few years. The news of his passing truly hurts. He was always “up” and welcomed me back into your lives like time stood still. He was an inspiration to everyone who had the good fortune to know him. He will be greatly missed.

  17. Hat and Wayne
    Dear Fay,I am trying to keep the saddness at bay by recalling the millions of wonderful memories I have of Jimmy, from our childhood, teen years,”clam years” party years and just plain hanging around and enjoying ourselves years. I miss him terribly already and so far the saddness is winning but in time the tears will be replaced with smiles because Jimmy could always make me feel happy. Jimmy, thanks for the memories and God Speed! MAY YOUR MEMORY LIVE FOREVER!
    I love you, Hat

  18. My Unlce was with his two nephews, his niece, and his best friend when he passed. He was in peace. We is much loved by many, and we will miss him more then words can say.

    God Bless

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