James C. Hagerty

Date of Birth

April 25, 1944

Date of Death

February 14, 2018

Jim Hagerty had an intelligent and curious mind, lived life with intensity and passion, and loved well-designed, fast-revving vehicles. He grew up in Michigan, enjoyed school and participated on the track, golf, and ice hockey teams at Milford High. He went on to General Motors Institute and Lawrence Tech to become a Mechanical (Automotive) Engineer. Using the company perk while working at General Motors he became the proud owner of a first generation Corvette. Throughout that time he successfully raced a Honda S-600 Roadster in the SCCA circuit.

Jim provided engineering services for a variety of vehicle projects including buses, military tanks, heavy trucks, an electric safety car, motorcycle, an airplane engine, and a rotary-style engine for ocean wave producing energy to name a few. Companies he worked for or consulted with included GM, Chrysler Defense, AMF, Rohr Corp, Greyhound, Winnebago, Isuzu Diesel, Maxon Industries, Peterbilt, Eagle international, Silent Drive and the US Dept. of Transportation.

The last decades of his career was as owner of Mariah Motorsports, a multi-faceted business revolving around the Mazda RX-7 and rotary (Wankel) engine. He and his partner, Dan McCue, designed, developed and hand fabricated an extensive line of body parts for all models of the RX-7 street and race car and sold them world-wide. Jim mostly enjoyed the engineering and building of RX-7 based race cars and rotary powered race engines for customers. During the last several years he built an E-production race car for his own use and got to enjoy sports car racing once again.

Jim had an intimacy with music and one could believe he knew the lyrics to every song ever written. He spoke often and fondly of his high school music teacher and the casual doo-wop quartet he sang with in the echo chambers of the boy’s tile bathroom. Later influenced by his wife’s study of classical piano, he embraced this too, and they broadened their musical vocabulary with frequent attendance at the Music Academy of the West and other classical venues.

Jim adored his wife, Chris, and children Jeff and Jill now living in Portland OR. He was a good and proud father and his kids bear testament to that … they are second to none. Jim and Chris shared a kiss each morning before they left for work and spent their free time recreating together on golf courses, ski slopes, bicycle roads and hiking trails. They learned to scuba dive in Mexico and Jim had many occasions to crew on friends’ sailboats. They even enjoyed several seasons of Jonathon and Sylvia Swing Dance classes after a long day’s work. When Jim’s lungs could no longer manage a hike they bought a motorcycle. Each weekend they soared over Santa Barbara county’s scenic roads, enjoying its agility, the fresh air and unbridled freedom.

Jim’s untimely death was due to an environmental (mold-induced) lung disease and his illness became critical during the time of the toxic-laden air from the Thomas Fire. Jim was not finished with his life on earth and neither he nor his family were prepared for his death.

Chris sends out an abundance of thanks and appreciation to Hospice and VNA for their loving presence and guidance during Jim’s final weeks. To Dr. Jeffrey Kupperman for his excellent care, deep concern and personal touch throughout. And to the kindness and compassion of Chris’s close-knit condo community along with Jed & Debbie Hendrickson, owners of Santa Barbara Monumental. Their collaborative gift of a beautiful, engraved memorial rock rests under a California redwood, watching over Sycamore Creek.

Jim left this world reluctantly, but had no regrets in life.


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