James Hoye Giles, (a.k.a. “Slim Jim the Clown”) passed away on June 1, 2018 at home surrounded by his family members. Born in Pittsburgh in 1930, Jim and his parents, Ralph Hoye and Kathryn Keener Giles (both deceased), moved frequently during his childhood years, including stays in West Virginia, California and Alaska. Jim spent his adolescent and adult life in Youngstown. He attended Rayen High School and served in the Korean War, earning the purple heart for his army infantry combat service. Subsequently he was employed for 37 ½ years as a rigger in Youngstown’s Republic Steel Plant. Retiring in 1985, Jim was active in the Western Star #21 and and beginning in 1968, assumed leadership roles in the Aut Mori Grotto Clown Unit and Veteran’s Unit, performing in parades, visiting schools, hospitals, nursing homes and other venues. In 1989 Jim was awarded Aut Mori Grotto’s “Prophet of the Year”. In each setting, he brought joy and happiness to people of all ages and racial ethnic backgrounds. Blessed with a keen sense of humor, an ability to blow balloons of all shapes and sizes, and energetic and engaging dancing skills, Jim always evoked smiles and lifted spirits.
But clowning was only one dimension of a life filled with deep rooted family relationships and a broad range of friendships. In 1955 Jim married Ida Mae Brackenridge, daughter of John and Azile Townson Brackenridge, a Youngstown native and Woodrow Wilson High School graduate. Together they raised twin sons, Richard Kerry and James Curtis, life-long Youngstown residents, and daughter Martha Adele Giles, now in San Antonio, Texas. For over a decade, Jim and Ida shared their home with Azile Brackenridge following the death of her husband. The multi-generational household was the scene of many hectic and hilarious episodes that are remembered fondly by the now adult children.
Spouse Ida Mae Giles died in 2006. Jim is survived by his children, Richard Kerry (Teri Mamrak), James Curtis, and Martha Adele Giles; grand-children: James Bryan Giles (Alethea Diana), Krista Renee Giles Hernandez (Roland), Richard, Robert, and Michael Giles; great-grand-children: Raina, Narana, and Alaura Giles, and Daphne Hernandez. Other survivors include brother and sisters-in-laws, Douglas Brackenridge, Diane Saphire, and Mary Ann Rossi, and nephews, nieces, and grand-nephews and grand-nieces.
A memorial service will be held at Poland United Methodist Church on Friday June 8th at 6:00 p.m. with Rev. James Berkebile presiding. Prior to the service, the family will receive visitors from 4:00 to 5:45 at the church. A reception will be held in the church hall following the service. Family members wish to give thanks to caregiver Vicky Beal for her loving support of Jim. In lieu of flowers, the family requests those desiring to make donations in Jim’s name do so to Heritage Presbyterian Church or to the charity of their choice.