On July 5th, 2022, James Watson Degenhardt, loving father, and friend, passed away at his home in Clearwater. Jim was born on April 19th, 1959, to Donald and Virginia Degenhardt in Tarpon Springs, Florida. He received his undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College in 1981and his graduate degree from New York University in 1983. In 1993 Jim met and married Christina Rene Hunt and they raised two children together, James Michael and Makenzie Kathleen, who is the center of their lives.
As the youngest of seven, Jim grew up always working hard. Whether that be mowing neighbor’s lawns at the age of 6 for some pocket money, or just trying to get a second helping at the dinner table without having his hand bitten off. Dad knew how to work hard. He even excelled in his studies at a young age. So much so that his dad decided that instead of rewarding him every time he got an A, he would simply tax Jim every time he got a B or lower. The lower the grade, the higher the tax. Jim never brought home a B again. Jim worked so hard that he made it into the Ivy League. At Dartmouth, he learned some of his greatest lessons, made the greatest friends, and kept that football bench nice and warm for everyone else.
Our Dad was never shy about who he was. He was proud to be from Tarpon Springs, to be an American, a Degenhardt, an Eagle Scout, a Rough Rider, a brother of Theta Delta Chi Fraternity, a Dartmouth alum, a supporter of the arts, a mentor, a quiet philanthropist, and a hell of a party planner. No really, he was quite good at it. But what he really loved was the work he was able to do in his career and how he was able to help his community. As a financial advisor, Dad always said that what he did wasn’t so much about finances, but about the relationships that he built. He knew that people wanted more than just someone that had all the right answers. They want someone they can trust, someone who cares about what could happen to them and their family. That is what Dad gave to people. That’s what he gave to every person in his life, freely. He gave people someone they could rely on to be there when they needed it. And if he didn’t know how to help, he could find someone who could. He was relentless with his outreach. He was always planning ways to get people together and make introductions. Dad didn’t know what a stranger was.
Of course, no conversation could be had with Jim without him bringing up his two kids. More than anything in this world, he was proud of his kids. His life was dedicated to them, and he will be missed more than words can say. Jim was preceded in his death by his parents and two older sisters, Mary Elizabeth (’56) and Patricia Huber (‘22). He is survived by his two children, his siblings, his nieces and nephews, and his many friends whom he always held as close as family.
A viewing and service will be held at Dobie’s Funeral Home in Tarpon Springs on Friday, July 15th, from 4-7 pm. After the service, we will be holding a celebration of life at Currents at 200 East Tarpon Avenue. In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting that donations be made in Jim’s honor to The Arc Foundation of Clearwater and The Florida Orchestra of Tampa.