James Paul Puette died peacefully in his sleep on February 4, 2023, with his beloved wife and best friend of 41 years, Darlene Martin, at his side. He’d celebrated his 82nd birthday just three days earlier with a slice of his favorite dessert, peach pie.

Jim was raised in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, the oldest of five children born to dear parents Helen (Ayers) and John “Jay” Puette. Helen instilled in Jim a deep Catholic faith which he carried throughout his life, and Jay gave his son a love for all things engineering and mechanical. If it had an engine and went fast, Jim was all for it! He graduated from Gilmore Academy in Gates Mills, where he played nearly every sport that ended in “ball,” and Gannon University, where he was captain of the Gabon, Gannon’s NCAA award-winning fencing team.

After college, Jim settled in Erie where he would live for the rest of his life.

When he was just 28, Jim built his young family a home from scratch in Millcreek, working nights and weekends around a full-time job. As he’d tell the story, he didn’t even know what a nail was when he started! But he was a quick study who loved hard work and using his hands, and he moved his first wife Dona (Eakin) and their toddler in before the first snow that year. Jim would go on to design, build, and sell dozens and dozens of houses in the township and beyond under the banner of JP Homes and later, Puette Builders & Custom Designs.

An accomplished hunter who never missed a deer season with his buddies, Jim loved the outdoors. If there was snow, you could find him racing one of his many sleds across the fields and back roads of Erie County, tavern-hopping with friends. He loved traveling with Darlene back to her hometown of North Bay, Ontario, and spending time with their crew on Lake Nipissing and at their cottage on the French River. He made lifelong friends in Canada and adopted more than a few of their sayings, including his very favorite, “eh?”

Like all Puettes, Jim spent a good chunk of his life correcting people on the pronunciation of his last name. (Rhymes with “Ewe bet!”) And though he’d never admit to knowing it, he was one handsome devil.

Jim valued the simple things most. Put him with people he liked, some spicy wings — flats only, please and thank you — and an ice cold Molson, and boy oh boy, he’d call that the hot set up. His favorite adult beverage was his beloved Manhattan.

Like many men of his generation, Jim was more comfortable with facts than with feelings, but he loved his family deeply and got good at saying so before he left us. He will be very dearly missed by Darlene and by his two children, Joel Puette of Girard and Deborah Puette of Los Angeles, both of whom made him very proud; cherished siblings Tom Puette (Eileen), William Puette (Carol), Suzanne Puette (Michael Doyle), and Dave Puette (Sheryl); grandchildren Nick Burch, Samantha Puette, and Emerson St. Amant, three great-grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews.

While the family will hold a private celebration of life, we invite any and all to send the Lord’s Prayer up in Jim’s name. He’d think that was pretty neat.