James E. McAuliffe III, 71, Watertown

WATERTOWN, NY —  James E. McAuliffe III, 71, passed away on Oct. 4, 2021, at Hospice of Jefferson County after a brief battle with cancer. Several family members were by his side, including his beloved wife of 31 years, Michele McAuliffe.

Jim was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts on April 8, 1950. He was the oldest child of James Jr. and Patricia McAuliffe, helping to care for what would eventually become a family of 7 children. Jim was initially raised in the Boston area until the McAuliffe family relocated to Dayton, Ohio and then finally to Watertown in 1964. He attended Watertown City schools, graduating from Watertown High School in 1968. Jim then attended the University of Dayton, where he played collegiate football after earning a walk-on position on the university’s team.

He returned to the Watertown area after graduating from Dayton in 1972 and married Catherine Whitman. That marriage resulted in the birth of his daughter, Christine (Chris to Jim) and ended in divorce in the early 1980s.

Jim married Michele Pearson Curtis on Nov. 2, 1990, after meeting her out walking in Watertown the previous year. Jim and Michele shared many activities, including their mutual strong belief in the Catholic faith; wanting to be outside on their deck and enjoy nice weather; biking or walking as much as possible throughout Watertown; and playing with the numerous cats that they have had over the years. Jim also enjoyed introducing Michele to his life-long love of the Maine seacoast and walking on the beach. He had visited the seacoast every year as a child with his family and continued this tradition by often going twice a year to Wells Beach, Maine with Michele.

Jim was also a devoted sports fan, a characteristic he shared with his mother, Patricia. He enjoyed watching University of Dayton football, Syracuse University basketball, St. Lawrence University ice hockey, Yankees and Cincinnati Reds baseball. Jim also had an extensive career refereeing and umpiring games, matches and meets in volleyball, swimming, basketball, baseball, softball, and other sports for a multitude of local school districts. He also refereed and organized numerous recreational sports and leagues for soldiers at Fort Drum. Jim was also involved with Watertown’s Red & Black, acting as a scorekeeper and providing other refereeing services.

Jim is survived by his wife, Michele McAuliffe (Watertown). He is also survived by his daughter Dr. Christine (Chris) McAuliffe and her partner, Matthew VanBuren (Cranston, Rhode Island). Michele’s children and their spouses also survive Jim: Daniel (Laura) Curtis (Florida) and their three children; Bryan (Danielle) Curtis (Georgia) and their four children.

Jim is also survived by his six siblings and their families, who affectionately called him “Buddy” during his lifetime: Kenneth (Marion) McAuliffe, (York, Maine); Larry (Juan-Carlos Alvarez) McAuliffe, (New Jersey); Brian (Luann) McAuliffe, (Watertown); Janet (Michael) D’Onofrio (Middletown, CT); Joyce (Eric) Bettinger (Delmar, NY); and Joanne (Allen) Spooner (Watertown); 17 nieces and nephews from his many siblings in addition to many grand-nieces and grand-nephews.

During his life, Jim was a faithful communicant of Holy Family Church.

On Oct. 9, 2021, the family will have a private funeral Mass at Holy Family Church along with calling hours for the family at Cummings Funeral Service, Inc., Watertown. Burial will be completed at Glenwood Cemetery the same day.

Online condolences may be shared at www.cummingsfuneral.com