James W. Sirois, 90, of Billings, went to be with the Lord on Dec. 11, 2018.
James was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, on May 23, 1928, and grew up in Mount Vernon, New York, with Theordore and Mabel Sirois. Jim attended schools in Mount Vernon and later enlisted in the TWEEN Corps of the United States Navy in 1945 when he was just 17.
Four years of his Navy career were spent on the USS Pennsylvania, patrolling the Enewetak area (which is in the Atoll chain of Islands). Jim served as a radar specialist on the USS Pennsylvania, and specialized in locating enemy ships and providing the ship’s gunners with their coordinates. Jim and the crew of the USS Pennsylvania also participated in the first atomic bomb tests conducted in the Bikini Islands in 1946. From the deck of the battleship, Jim wrote in his diary “the bomb was detonated at 0835 this morning right on schedule and 1000 tons of water were thrown 5,000 feet in the air forming a spout with a diameter of 2,150 yards.” Jim was honorably discharged from the Navy in May of 1949 at Treasure Island, California.
Shortly thereafter, Jim met his future bride, Patti, at a USO Club in Oakland, California, and always said that from the minute he laid eyes on Patti, “he was hooked.” Just four months later, in July of 1949, Jim and Patti married in Reno, Nevada, and settled in Northern California, where Jim joined the Radiation Laboratory at the University of California at Berkeley and was later selected by the University of Southern California to create and operate its new “cyclotron.” Recruited by Dr. Pernofski in 1963, Jim spent 30 years at Stanford University as a Chief Operator of the Stanford Linear Accelerator. He took great pride in overseeing a series of experiments at SLAC for Professor Murray Gelman that led to the discover of the “quark,” a previously unknown particle.
Retiring from Stanford in 1993, Jim and Patti were ready for their next adventure. Youngest daughter Robin encouraged Patti and Jim to retire in the Billings area, where she resided with her husband, Steve, and son, Gregory. With time on their hands and a growing wanderlust, Jim and Patti enjoyed exploring the state’s beautiful parks, trails and rivers. A big favorite was the discovery of Red Lodge, where Jim and Patti spent many happy times together.
“Jimmy” will be dearly missed by his beloved wife, Patti; and his daughters Karel Davis of Northern California and Michele O’Malley, newly relocated to Billings; his grandchildren, Gregory Colburn, Jason, Garrett, Christian, and Missy Davis. Jim was preceded in death by his youngest daughter, Robin Colburn.
Private family services will be held and Michelotti-Sawyers Mortuary is assisting the Sirois family with Jim’s funeral arrangements.