In Memory


James Pecha

Deceased Classmate: James Clifford Pecha
Date Of Birth: Jun-28-1945
Date Deceased: Jan-13-2016
Age at Death: 70
Cause of Death: leukemia
Classmate City: Albuquerque
Classmate State: NM
Classmate Country: USA
Was a Veteran: No 
Survived By: Wife Sharon and Sister Connie

Jim was my best friend at Highland High. I had my '46 Ford and to paraphrase Paladin, "Have Car - Will Travel". We hung out, went places, cruised the circuit between Franks and Vips, and basically shared our high school "nerd-dumb" in each others company. We took three years of Mr. Walensky's art classes together. Jim was the true natural talent when it came to art. He went on to graduate from UNM with a degree in Architecture but art continued to be his true passion. I lost track of Jim after college but reconnected 50 years later when his sister Connie "hooked us up". His wife Sharon had developed dementia and he was caring for her when he was diagnosed with leukemia. As he was hospitalized Sharon was sent to a retirement home in Las Lunas to be cared for and he asked me to visit him in the hospital. Over the next several months we got reacquainted. When we were friends in high school I knew his parents had placed restrictions on his activities. They wouldn't allow him to use their car or have friends over but they always allowed him to go places with me for some reason. I didn't know anything about the emotional abuse he was subjected to by his mother at the time and I suspect he didn't understand what was happening either. Emotional abuse is so below the radar that it's effect only surfaces in adulthood as the abused slowly realizes the profound effect the scars have left on his ability to live life. Jim wrote of some the abuse suffered at the hands of his family in his blog Art Across New In his own words: "My Mother was raised with six brothers, which terrorized her life. When I came along she decided not to allow another male to escape punishment. I felt her anger towards me and felt hesitant about talking to her, which resulted in a slight speech stuttering problem. I remember hearing her talk about, divide and conquer,” but I didn’t know what that meant as a child. She used my speech problem as a way to gain control of our family. She told my family not to talk to me, but didn’t tell me of her directive; so I tried harder to communicate with them, but they just stared at me. The rejection made my speech problem worse. I felt alone, punished and separated. She did a cruel thing. She didn’t tell me what she had done until I was forty-eight years old. She continued her assault on me by limiting the amount of food I could eat, which kept me weakened and skinny. She said many times that her brothers had eaten her family out of house and home. That wasn’t going to happen to her again. I felt the separation from my family, but couldn’t figure out why I was being treated so badly; so I listened to the Sunday School teacher about God’s love. I had a relationship with God from an early age, which continued through today, with a few bumps along the way. If I hadn’t found God’s love, I might have turned my feeling of separation into anger and struck back, like so many young people are doing today in mass murders. Separation is a primary concern, which can only be ultimately resolved with a relationship with God." You can see why some of his Class of '63 posts were a bit "evangelical" in tone. Christianity and his art work were his coping mechanism to deal with the emotional abuse he suffered as a child. To me his slight stutter was just a part of his charm. To read more of this complex individual and to see some of Jim Pecha's art work: go to: Rest In Peace my dear friend. 

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01/15/16 11:24 PM #1    

Robyn (Jane) Cholerton

It's sad to read of Jim's passing.  Although he was one of the many classmates I never knew, I read his posts here -- not as often as he posted them, but from time to time.  It seemed clear that he had been deeply wounded in life, but that he had found a beacon to guide him on his path.  

You, who posted this memorial, didn't identify yourself, but I am glad that Jim had you during this last part of his journey.  With your support, I am confident that he has laid aside his burdens, and is face to face in joy with his God.  "Rest in peace" has special meanng for Jim.  



01/18/16 04:41 PM #2    

John Criswell

Jim Pecha - Watercolor

01/18/16 04:43 PM #3    

John Criswell

Jim Pecha - watercolor

01/18/16 05:00 PM #4    

John Criswell

Jim Pecha - watercolor ...... Jim loved traveling New Mexico painting adobe churches. He was also an accomplished potter, photographer, and jewelry craftsman. A multi-talented member of HHS Class of 1963.

01/19/16 11:55 AM #5    

Merl Schafer

Beautiful watercolor, talented, sensitive man. I knew him for a long time but never well. We did communicate on the private message board for a while before the 50th. He told me his story and I told him I was unaware of that type of family (I wish I had known, maybe I could have helped). I encouraged him to post on our website. I'm so glad he did. His passing is a loss to our "class of 1963" family and the world.
My memory of Jim is that every year our new teacher would pronounce his last name as James Peach-a.
Go with God and rest in peace Jim. Merl

01/19/16 06:09 PM #6    

Joyce Goucher (Freeman)

Rest in peace with God, Mr. Pecha.  I remember James Pecha from the 6th grade at Zia Elementary School.

Joyce Goucher Freeman

01/21/16 12:50 PM #7    

James (Jim) Nohl

I first took notice of Jim Pecha this past year prior to the 70th birthday bash. His post at that time had under tones of deep depression and anguish. Robin picked up on this too at the time. I tried to befriend him at the time and offer empathy and hope but I thought it was only his cancer that he was dealing with. I encouraged him to post his art work so the Class could appreciate his artistic works. He did that and hopefully that brought him comfort of self-worth and accomplishment. As others have commented before, I too didn't always understand his recent posted works although he clearly communicated his faith in Christ. I too was unaware of his very sad childhood and abuse by his mother. How terrible that must have been growing up. I thank John Criswell for posting some of his earlier art of the churches. They are magnificent pieces and wish Jim would have posted them too. He truly was very talented. Perhaps the chemotherapy changed his artistic style. Jim Pecha may your heart, mind and spirit be filled with love now. You are with God now and in the good company of our other classmates who have gone before you. Rest in peace Jim

01/23/16 10:51 AM #8    

John Criswell



Church at Acoma watercolor by Jim Pecha

01/23/16 10:57 AM #9    

John Criswell

Jim Pecha 70th birthday June 2015 with John Criswell



01/23/16 02:29 PM #10    

John Criswell




Written by Jim's sister Connie Welty

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