James Patrick Oliver (Jimmy), passed away peacefully on Saturday, April 10, 2021. He was surrounded by his mother, sisters and brothers, as they kissed him, held his hands and sang “You Are My Sunshine,” “Jingle Bells,” and “I Can Only Imagine.”
He returned to be with God and his dad, Joe, in Heaven as his family sang “Jesus Loves Me” to him. Jimmy was such a good and faithful servant! He was a member of St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Church in Ford City.
He was born in Kittanning on Nov. 18, 1955, just six days before “Fanksgiving,” which would become his favorite holiday. While he was still a small boy, Jimmy’s parents realized he was a special child with developmental challenges.
Just like his two big brothers, Jimmy was excited to go to Bethel Township Elementary for a few years. Later, he became a proud member of the Progressive Workshop in Kittanning. He loved to cash his paychecks! As an adult, Jimmy left his childhood home and enjoyed having his very own place in various group homes throughout Kittanning and Indiana. For the past four years (after miraculously defeating cardiac arrest and calls to remove him from life support), Jimmy enjoyed life at Kittanning Care Center. He received extraordinary care at KCC and quickly became a friend to all. Jimmy always enjoyed making new friends wherever he went and soon became a favorite to most.
It was not God’s plan for Jimmy to have a wife and children of his own. Rather, he was to share his life and his love with his family and friends. Jimmy’s “Mudder,” Pauline, was the love of his life. They adored and cared for each other all the days of his life. For 65 years they shared that sacred bond that can only exist between a mother and her innocent, tender and fragile child. He was her “sunshine.” Now that sunshine has been taken away and her heart is broken, but only for a while. At last she is done raising children and her nest is empty. Please pray for her!
Jimmy held Jesus in his heart and loved his family. He also liked many of the things we all like but are too afraid to admit: like eating and drinking, and dollars. “Pessi” (Pepsi), hot dogs, “humburgers,” chips, and “prentzels,” McDonald’s and Christmastime were among his favorite things. He also enjoyed riding bikes, sitting in red cars, bowling, bingo and shaking you down for a few pennies or dollars, sometimes even asking “How about a five?” Jimmy also loved to celebrate, and our family was so lucky to enjoy so many birthdays, holidays, suppers and trips to camp together. Jimmy could even make a regular trip to Walmart or McDonald’s into a celebration!
Despite suffering daily struggles and discomforts and sometimes facing ridicule or misunderstanding because he looked or acted differently, Jimmy never stopped loving people. For you see, the special needs God gave him were actually special gifts that Jimmy shared with us. He was pure and innocent, his love genuine and unconditional. He had no hatred nor jealousy. He forgave easily and never held a grudge. He always asked how others were doing and his smile beamed brightest when hugging small children or pets. He was not perfect, but those who knew him came to understand why Jimmy and those like him are closest to Christ.
Surviving are Jimmy’s mother, Pauline (Buriak) Oliver; his big brothers, Joe (Mary Kay) Oliver and John (Cynthia) Oliver; his little sisters and brothers, JoAnna (James) Edwards, Jean (Joseph, deceased) Francoforte, Joan (Ernie) Elsesser, Jerry (June) Oliver, Jaymie (Brandi) Oliver, Jacynta (Scott) Harb and Jason (Lisa) Oliver. Dozens of nieces and nephews and grand-nieces and grand-nephews will miss their Uncle Jim.
Jimmy was preceded in his return to Heaven by his father, Joseph; his infant brother, Jody; paternal grandparents, Dominick and Antoinette Oliver; maternal grandparents, Dimetro and Anna Buriak; his godfather, Fred Buriak; and favorite aunt, Sophie E. Buriak, who always gave Jimmy pennies.
Family and friends will be received from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. today, at Mantini Funeral Home, 701 Sixth Ave., Ford City. Final visitation will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday, followed by a prayer service given by Pastor Jimmy Edwards at 11 a.m. at the funeral home. The family asks that if you’d like, please wear something red to celebrate Jimmy’s favorite color and passion for life.
Donations can be made in memory of Jimmy to: Progressive Workshop of Armstrong County, 301 Oak Ave., Kittanning, PA 16201 and to Special Olympics at www.specialolympics.org.