Celebrating and Remembering Dad, with a Grateful Heart!

This past week has certainly been a journey of heartache and grace, and blessing and gratitude, given the death of our beloved Dad, Jim Chatelle,  He will always be remembered in our hearts, minds and stories.  May his legacy of kindness and love of music and family live on!!

Stay healthy and hold tight to your loved ones.


James Franklin Chatelle, an extremely kind and loyal man who would give anyone the shirt off his back if asked, loved growing up in the Rio Grande Valley and singing barbershop. He loved all his family and friends, and in turn was blessed and surrounded by the love of many. Jim was born on January 30, 1928 in San Benito, Texas to Napoleon Gerard and Miriam (Swann) Chatelle. He died at the age of 87 in New Braunfels.

In his beloved Rio Grande Valley where he grew up in Los Fresnos, Texas, Jimmy played football, sang, was a faithful Methodist, and even hitch-hiked across the country when travel times became tough. He was especially proud to be the younger brother and singing buddy of Gerry Chatelle of San Antonio, Texas, his only sibling, and he dearly loved his Mother and her sisters, Aunt Eunice Baskin and Aunt Frances Wray. Along with Gerry and his adored cousin, Patti Dickerson, of McAllen, Texas, singing, tap dancing, and entertaining anyone who would listen was a passion for Jimmy, both as a young boy and way into his senior years. Jim was also proud to have been a former student at Texas A&I University in Kingsville, Texas where he sang in the choir.

How blessed and fortunate Jim was to have met not one, but two, loves of his life. On April 30, 1954, he married his first wife, Irma Jeanne (Farley) Chatelle, formerly of Port Lavaca, Texas who died on November 30, 1999. Jim lovingly cared for Jeanne during her multiple battles with cancer. Together they were both especially proud of their two daughters. At the time of Jeanne’s death, they would have been married 45 years, having moved from Port Lavaca to New Braunfels for retirement purposes. Several years later, Jim was blessed beyond measure to reconnect with a past college sweetheart, Janie Smith of Bishop, Texas, who brought him a renewed spirit for living when she agreed to marry him. Jim and Janie married on August 31, 2002 in New Braunfels, Texas, and he cared greatly for Janie’s family.

From a career perspective, Jim was a loyal employee for many years for Central Power & Light (CP&L) Company, both in Corpus Christi and Port Lavaca. He ended his employment with CP&L when the stress and worry of having to turn off peoples’ electricity became too much for his caring heart. After leaving CP&L, Jim went to work for Whitco Chemicals in Point Comfort, Texas where he was a proud member of the Steelworkers’ Union along with Jeanne who served as the Union secretary. At one time in his life, Jim worked at nights and on the weekends to help the family make ends meet by serving as the popcorn maker, ticket seller, and movie projectionist at the Twin Dolphins Theatre in Port Lavaca. Jim delighted in telling the story of the night in which he got the last two reels of the film That’s Entertainment out of order, and none of the patrons seemed to notice or care, even after he loyally marched to the front of the theatre to explain the mishap and offer apologies and refunds.

As the grandson of a Methodist minister, Jim was also a proud and faithful Methodist, and served as long-time choir director for the First United Methodist Church in Port Lavaca, and a choir member in the New Braunfels First United Methodist Church where he had many loving and caring friends.

Wherever Jim lived, he tried to make that community better through service and volunteerism. Some of Jim’s community projects included work for the American Cancer Society and the Kiwanis Club/Key Club in Port Lavaca where he was proud to have been chosen as a delegate to the national convention in Toronto, Canada, a driving trip he made from Port Lavaca with Jeanne and the girls. In his younger years, Jim loved bowling; camping; playing poker with the neighbors; and enjoying a round of golf where he mostly beat everyone he played, always with a great deal of humility. He was a proud member of the ‘hole-in-one’ club.

Above almost anything, Jim loved barbershop singing. For nearly his whole adult life, he was a proud member of the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America. If there was anything he could be doing in his life, he would most prefer to be singing barbershop, and if not singing it, talking and reminiscing about it. He loved being a part of the Hill Country Chorus, as well as many other barber shop choruses and quartets throughout the years. His current and former barber-shopper friends meant the world to him.

Jim is survived by his wife, Janie Chatelle of New Braunfels; his cherished daughters, Melody Chatelle and husband, Edward R. Zamora of Austin and Trudy Wortham and husband, Mike Wortham of Victoria; beloved grand-daughters, Lauren Wortham Kuecker (Brad) of Hockley and Rachel Nicole Wortham of Victoria; precious great-granddaughter, Haylee Jeanne Kuecker; brother and sister-in-law, Gerry and Jeannine Chatelle, and children Lizanne (Joe) Cucolo and Mike (Kaye) Chatelle and families; cousin Patti Dickerson and family; step-children Melissa (Mary Ann), Ross (Cindy) and Frank Smith; step-grandsons, Cody and Cameron Smith; nieces Beverly (AR) Porter and Patti Davis and their families. He was predeceased by his parents; first wife, Jeanne; and Jeanne’s parents and sister and brother-in-law, Don (Mick) and Faye Farley of Corpus Christi and Delpha and Ralf Zietz of San Antonio.

Services are being held at First United Methodist Church in New Braunfels at 2 pm on Sunday, September 27, 2015 under the direction of Lux Funeral Home. The Rev. Jason Adams will officiate. Burial will be held at a later date in Port Lavaca at the Greenlawn Cemetery. For more information, contact the Lux Funeral Home staff.

Members of the Chatelle family are very grateful for the outstanding healthcare received by Jim over the years in the New Braunfels area, and to the members of the Hill Country Chorus and First United Methodist Church in New Braunfels for their care and support along with Christus Santa Rosa Hospital and Hope Hospice in New Braunfels. Contributions to the Hill Country Chorus (http://hillcountrychorus.org/); First United Methodist Church of New Braunfels (http://firstumcnb.org/); or Hope Hospice of New Braunfels (http://www.hopehospice.net/) are suggested in lieu of flowers.

Here’s to a kind life well-lived and sung with reverence and gusto.

James F. Chatelle, 1928-2015
Published in Austin American-Statesman from Sept. 27 to Sept. 28, 2015