Jackson, Ohio, and all those whose lives were touched by his presence mourn the loss of James Rodney Trago; a remarkable man whose life was filled with love, adventure, and unwavering dedication. With heavy hearts, we come together to honor the cherished memories and enduring legacy of a beloved husband, father, grandfather, soldier, and advocate.
Born in Jackson, Ohio, James “Jim” was the son of Carrie and David Trago and one of thirteen siblings: Dolores, Eleanor, Mary, Shirley, Nancy, David “Dickie”, Paul, Carrie, Thomas “Tom”, Sue, Steve, and John “Bill”. His childhood was shaped by the warmth and closeness of his large and loving family. From an early age, Jim learned the values of resilience, compassion, and the importance of standing up for what he believed in.
Born with an untiring spirit, Jim embodied the values of honor, courage, and selflessness from a young age. As a soldier, he answered the call of duty with unwavering resolve, willingly placing himself in harm's way to protect the ideals and liberties that he held dear.
During his service in the Vietnam War, Jim displayed exceptional bravery and resilience. His selfless actions in the face of danger resulted in him being awarded the Purple Heart, a testament to his unwavering commitment and sacrifice. His bravery and dedication served as an inspiration to his fellow soldiers and earned him the utmost respect from his comrades.
While in the military, Jim found love in Mary Lu Pattillo, and together they built a life of love, support, and mutual admiration. Their marriage was blessed with two children, Scott and Sherri, who brought immeasurable joy and purpose to their lives.
Later in life, Jim found his true love when he met and married Thomas “Thom” Schmitt. Together, they embarked on countless adventures and created a lifetime of memories. Jim had a passion for the rodeo, and his involvement with the Arizona Gay Rodeo Association (AGRA) and the International Gay Rodeo Association (IGRA) brought him immense joy and a sense of community. In 1999, he joined the Southeast Gay Rodeo Association (SEGRA), ultimately becoming a founding member of the Florida Gay Rodeo Association (FGRA). Through FGRA, he tirelessly promoted charitable causes, welcoming others into his home for friendship and a meal, also traveling across the state to promote FGRA events and make a positive impact.
Through rodeo, Jim and Thom enjoyed country-western dancing, however, Jim’s war injuries eventually limited his participation to that of a spectator. In 2013, Jim joined the Rocky Mountain Rainbeaus, a Square Dance Club where he became an honored Non-Dancer, perfectly content in watching his husband and friends dance while he socialized with others between tips or snack breaks.
Early on, Jim had a deep love for music and the performing arts. Educated in sales and interior design, he was skilled in decorating and remodeling many homes, including his own. Later in life, his passion grew to travel and exploration, with countless road trips to visit family and friends, near and far. He and Thom cherished cruises to the Caribbean, Alaska, Hawaii, and New England, as well as annual trips to Key West, Florida or Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The beauty of new landscapes, the thrill of discovery, and the bonds they formed along the way enriched their lives and created lasting memories.
Beyond his personal pursuits, Jim actively engaged in politics and was dedicated to supporting his views. He understood the importance of being involved in shaping his community and advocated passionately for the causes he believed in.
Above all, Jim cherished his role as a grandfather. His love for his granddaughters, Kaitlyn and Kylee, knew no bounds. He embraced every moment spent with them, treasuring their laughter, and nurturing their dreams. The bond between grandfather and granddaughters was one of pure joy and unwavering love.
The life of James Rodney Trago touched the lives of many, leaving an indelible impact that will endure through memories shared. While he may no longer be physically present, his spirit and his legacy will live on in the hearts of all who were fortunate enough to know him.
Services to honor James' life will be held at Horan & McConaty Funeral Services, 11150 E. Dartmouth Ave, Aurora, CO 80014. A viewing will take place on Thursday, July 6 from 3-5 pm (Mountain), followed by a Celebration of Life at 5 pm. For those unable to attend in person, the Celebration of Life will be live-streamed beginning at 4 pm at https://bxcited.com/james-rodney-trago/ (https://bxcited.com/james-rodney-trago/).
Military Honors and interment will be held at Fort Logan National Cemetery, 4400 W. Kenyon Avenue, Denver, CO 80236 on Thursday, August 10 at 1:15 pm.
In this time of collective grief, let us find solace in the memories we shared with James and the love he bestowed upon us. May his soul rest in eternal peace.
September 27, 1945 - June 26, 2023