On Thursday, Sept. 7, 2023, James William Theinert passed away unexpectedly at the age of 71 due to complications of chronic heart disease. “Big Jim” left this life surrounded by his beloved family, who will miss him deeply.
He was born on Feb.26, 1952 to William J. Theinert, Jr. and Patricia C. Theinert in Queens, N.Y., the middle of three children, which included his older brother Bruce and younger sister Denise.
He grew up in East Meadow, N.Y. where he attended St. Bridget’s Catholic primary school and attended East Meadow High School It was in high school that he had the chance to play lacrosse and develop a deep lifelong passion for the sport.
In 1977, he followed in his father’s footsteps and joined the New York City Fire Department. Jim proudly served with Ladder 117, Engine 312, and finally as a chief’s aid with the 49 Battalion. He was immensely proud of his service to the city of New York and was medically retired in 1998 due to injuries sustained in the line of duty.
Jim was married twice, first to Chrystyna (Chrys) Skovira. He and Chrys were blessed with three boys, William, Joseph, and James, and raised them on Shelter Island. An ever present father, Jim could always be found on the sidelines of his boys’ sporting events cheering them on loudly.
Later he married Catherine Hanly-Forde of Sag Harbor. He and Cathy enjoyed nearly two decades together at their beautiful home on Oak Drive in Sag Harbor. Despite early retirement, Jim will be remembered as someone who loved his community and his friends, whether by lending a hand, hosting parties at his home, or inviting anyone he could to his house at Christmas time to see the Christmas Village he set up in his basement, a resplendent toy train and village.
He filled his life and particularly his retirement with seizing chances to catch up with old friends at the beach, take his sons camping, and bring people together in his own special way. However, life also brought its share of tragedies, most notably the loss of his son Joe, who was killed while serving his country as a First Lieutenant in the United States Army in Afghanistan in 2010.
Everyone who knew Jim knew how much this loss affected him, and he worked the rest of his life to honor his grief with efforts to share his endless pride at Joe’s service and sacrifice.
Jim is predeceased by his son Joe, his parents, Patricia and William, his brother, Bruce, and his sister, Denise. He is survived by his beloved wife, Cathy; his children Billy (Nancy), Jimbo (Mary) Theinert, Zoe (Chris) Koegel, and Jason and Barry Hanley-Forde; and his adored grandchildren Cooper, Acadia, and Archie Theinert, and Rebecca, Claire, and Tommy Koegel.
He will be remembered by the communities that knew and loved him at his wake on Friday, Sept. 15, from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. at Yardley & Pino Funeral Home in Sag Harbor. A funeral Mass will be at 10:30 a.m. at Our Lady of the Isle Church. A Celebration of Life will take place from 2 to 5 p.m. at the American Legion on Shelter Island.
His family requests that in lieu of flowers, you memorialize Jim if so inclined, with a donation to Strongpoint Theinert Ranch. For information, go to strongpointtheinert.org/our-future.