James “Jim” E. Todd Sr.

Published 7:17 am Wednesday, April 3, 2024

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James “Jim” E. Todd Sr., 95, died peacefully on Holy Saturday, March 30, 2024, with 2 of his 13 children at his side. He leaves behind family, colleagues, and congregations blessed by his exemplary work ethic, dedication to family, and abiding faith.

Jim was born July 29, 1928, to James and Frances Todd, and grew up in Philadelphia along with sisters Jean and Joyce. He loved fishing nearby creeks with his grandfather and working as a lifeguard at the local swimming hole. In 1946, he graduated from Mastbaum Vocational School, with a diploma in applied electronics. Following graduation, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Signal Corps, installing radio relay towers throughout Central America.

After his honorable discharge in 1949, Jim used the GI Bill to further his education at Temple and Drexel Universities. He dedicated the next 20 years at RCA and GE as a quality control inspector for aerospace-related projects. While at GE, he worked on the government’s Nuclear Emulsion Recovery Vehicle (NERV) project, a precursor to NASA. Following NASA’s incorporation of NERV, he continued with GE, working on contracts related to the Gemini, Mercury and Apollo programs. Following Apollo’s downsizing in 1971, Jim found a home with R.C. Burns, a consulting engineering firm that oversaw lighting installation and maintenance at the Philadelphia International Airport. For 21 years, he labored tirelessly to keep the lights on at the airport, with a tight-knit group of colleagues and his canine side-kick Molly Brown.

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In 1956, Jim married Janet McCullough, who he met while the two worked at RCA. For 62 years until Janet went to be with her Lord in 2018, they raised 13 children. Not only did they adopt 6 of the 13, but they also fostered hundreds of children over a 50-year period. They first settled in Kirkwood, NJ, then moved to Haddon Heights, NJ in 1965, home for the next 27 years. Every Spring Jim and Janet loaded 4 to 9 children (depending on the year) into the family station wagon for Easter vacations in Florida, Georgia, and then the Outer Banks. Each year Jim would say “we can’t afford to go,” and Janet would respond “we can’t afford not to go.” As in their life journey, Janet navigated and Jim drove.

Jim and Janet raised their family at the local Baptist Church but nurtured a shared faith with friends from diverse communities – Catholic, Charismatic, and Jewish – an example for their children that God’s Family, like theirs, has open arms.

After Jim retired in 1992, Janet persuaded him to move to Southern Shores, NC, where many close friends had also relocated. They joined Kitty Hawk Baptist Church, where Jim served as a deacon and then deacon emeritus. Jim especially enjoyed the thoughtful teaching of his son-in-law, Rev. Donald Teears, who shepherded the congregation for 16 years, until he went to be with the Lord in 2019. Jim and Janet also enjoyed annual family camping trips to Kerr Lake with their dear friends Bobby and Jenny Williams. Though “retired,” for 27 years till his death, Jim worked as a security guard at Barrier Island in Duck, NC, to “put food on the table.”

Jim had a sharp wit, loved reading (up to 5 books a week, even at 95), and especially loved telling stories, always prefaced by “I’ll tell you a short one.” His epic story lives on.

Jim is survived by his sister Joyce Byrnes, and 12 of his 13 children: Dianne Cleary, Deborah Klapprodt, Jacquelyn Todd-Morel, Jill Teears, James Todd Jr., Robert Entwistle, Jesse Todd, Jonathan Todd, Jennifer Carlsen, Jeremy Todd, Casarah Rosas and Katie Todd. His son, Jordan Todd, an army veteran like his dad, preceded Jim to Glory in 2019. Also with the Lord are his first wife, Pauline Coombs – Dianne and Deborah’s mother – sister Jean Williams, and his cherished grandson and namesake, James Tyler Klapprodt. Carrying on his legacy are 29 grandchildren: Robert Meitzer and Shannon Cleary Coutier; Robert, Todd, and Justin Klapprodt; Yohanna, Madeleine, Josephine and Eve Todd-Morel; Brian, Kyle and Joel Teears; Hadley, Charlotte, James III, and Francesca Todd; Tiffany, Jordan, Jared and Zachary Entwistle; Trevor and Kianna Todd; Sarah and Abigail Carlsen; Vanessa and Samantha Todd; Katana Vezie, Arabella and Rayden Rosas. The legacy continues with 26 great-grandchildren and counting!

Funeral Services will be Friday, April 5, 2 p.m., at the Kitty Hawk Baptist Church, Dr. Rev. Cherrie Wheeler officiating. Internment follows at Southern Shores Cemetery. Friends and family may view and greet the family one hour prior. The family encourages donations to Kill Devil Hills Library, in gratitude for years of service to Jim. Condolences may be expressed via the online register at www.gallopfuneralservices.com. Gallop Funeral Services, Inc. was entrusted with arrangements.