Obituary of James Walter Sawaya
James Walter Sawaya was born on May 4th, 1937 in San Diego, California to Walter and Nabiha Sawaya.He was the fifth and youngest of their children. Dad’s family lived within walking distance of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in North Park. At a young age, Dad felt called to be an altar server at Mass, acalling that remained with him his entire life despite his future vocation as a husband and father. Dad
attended St. Patrick’s Elementary School and then St. Augustine High School, graduating in 1956. Hisdedication to the Catholic faith led him to enter the seminary. However, hampered by asthma, he was admitted to Mercy Hospital where he first laid eyes on a beautiful young nursing student named Muriel Johnson, whom he fell in love with and married on St. Patrick’s Day in 1958.
Jim and Muriel took over Sawaya Bros. Market on Myrtle Avenue in North Park and began building their legacy, a successful grocery business and Catholic family. Jim was born in 1959, followed by Theresa, John, Paul, Mary, Martha, Chris, and Steve. Following a long, sustaining career in the grocery business, Dad and Mom began a carpet cleaning business which they enjoyed for many years.
Dad’s love for altar serving never waned and in his retirement he devoted himself to the needs of the community here at St. Joseph’s
Cathedral. His eyes twinkled when he spoke of the priests, staff, and parishioners he loved so dearly and served for so many years.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Walter and Nabiha and his brothers, Paul and Joe. He is survived by his wife, Muriel, and their eight children; Jim (Kelli), Theresa (John), John (Terri), Paul, Mary (Ed), Martha (Pat), Chris (Cecilia), and Steve as well as his sisters, Isabel and Virginia. His legacy continues in his 45 grandchildren and 57 great-grandchildren.
The Rosary and Vigil will be held on Friday, August 13th at 6 pm. The Funeral Mass will be held on Saturday, August 14th at 10 am. Both services will be held at St. Joseph’s Cathedral on 3rd Avenue.
God blessed our dad with a fruitful life and we are forever grateful for the person that he was to all of us.To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of James Sawaya, please visit Tribute Store