James Edward Zachery


June 14, 1930 ~ July 1, 2023 (age 93)

James Edward Zachery was born on June 14, 1930 to Jesse Cordell and Laura nee Carter Zachary in Newcastle, Indiana.  He was the 4th of ten children and the last surviving sibling. The family moved to Albuquerque, NM when he was 3 due to a doctor recommending his brother needing a desert climate. It was there that he spent his childhood. A veteran of the Korean War, he joined the Air Force in 1950 and was trained as a radiotelephone technician at Scott AFB. He was going to be sent to Korea, but Russia started becoming aggressive at that time in the Bering Strait.  There was only one radio operator at the Air Force base in Alaska so they sent Jim to be an additional one. He rode a troop ship up to Anchorage and remembered staying in a sheltered area on deck much of the time because everyone else was seasick below. 

He met the love of his life Sally Lee Vincent when a friend of hers showed her a local paper in New Jersey of soldiers who were lonely and wanted a pen pal. As they wrote from January to September, a romance bloomed and Jimmy proposed to her via the mail.  She flew to Alaska with her mother and it was love at first sight. After the required three-day waiting period, they were married on October 2, 1952, in Anchorage Alaska at Elmendorf AFB. That was the beginning of 70-plus years together. Their oldest daughter Sherry was born in Alaska.  They decided to move back to Albuquerque when he was honorably discharged in 1954. They left in June and drove down the AlCan Highway with a baby and a dog in a 1947 Studebaker with a rebuilt engine from Sears.  They drove night and day at 25 miles per hour down mostly unpaved roads for two weeks to arrive at Albuquerque. 

They built their first house on Estancia Blvd. in Albuquerque and Jim went to college on the GI Bill and became an electrical engineer.  The Zachary family in Albuquerque was in the turquoise and Indian jewelry business and so he set up a shop in his garage to cut stones to supplement his income.  It was in Albuquerque that his daughters Cindy and Laurie were born. He was hired by Sperry right out of college and moved to New York and then Washington State where they lived in Bremerton for a year. He changed jobs to Honeywell and moved to Panama City, Florida where they lived during the time of Kennedy’s Presidency and the Cuban missile crisis.  Jim was instrumental in solving several engineering problems while there. For example, there was a problem with new fighter jets going into fatal spins and crashing despite anything pilots tried to do to pull out of it.  After research his team determined that the solution to the problem was after entering the spiral, the pilot needed to let go of the stick, feet off the pedals and the jet would straighten out.  So on the words of Jim and other engineers, a brave test pilot was sent up and told to enter the death spin and do as instructed.  It worked!  Perhaps his work on airplanes contributed to his fear of flying.

Honeywell operated all the guidance systems for the Athena missile program where they shot missiles from Green River Utah to White Sands New Mexico, so the family moved to Moab, Utah. Jim became site supervisor and many interesting adventures ensued including horseback riding, famous Western movies being filmed and staking uranium and mercury deposit claims. 

When offered a promotion and move to Minnesota, they decided instead to retire from full-time engineering and he would start his own turquoise business while doing engineering consulting and his own scientific research projects. His youngest daughter Jenny was born during this time. Surprise!  When Jenny was 8, and all the other daughters were grown and married, Jim and Sally decided to sell their business and move to the small Texas town of Stephenville to finish raising their youngest daughter. Jim and Sally continued their romance traveling throughout America in their RV and he would continue his research and scientific discoveries. 

Jim was the inventor of several inventions and processes:  A patented, highly efficient gasoline engine with a revolutionary piston design, a process to enhance and improve gemstones such as turquoise and opal such that they were not chemically altered in any unnatural way and a process to produce uniform silicon nanoparticles of any size. He continued to think outside the box and conduct this research to nearly the end of his life.  He was a unique, one-of-a-kind man. He was a wonderful, loving husband and as a father, and grandfather, he encouraged his daughters and grandchildren in every way and every endeavor. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him and loved him. 

Jimmy was preceded in death by his beautiful second daughter Cindy Lee Zachery Cross in 2011. He is survived by his beloved wife of 70 years Sally Lee Zachery, three other daughters, Charon Lee Zachery, Laurie Lee Thomas (Bill Thomas), Jennifer Lee Hughes (John Hughes) and 6 grandchildren, Sarah Bridges, Zachery, Claire, Jared and Silas Hughes, and Taggert Thomas.



July 7, 2023
10:30 AM
Indian Creek Cemetery, Erath County

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