James Panzitta of Winter Park, Florida passed away on Wednesday, December 11. He is survived by his daughter and son-in-law Teri and Ernie Blevins; son and daughter-in-law Michael and Maggie; and brothers Joe and Danny and sister Fran Russo.
Jim was born on January 26, 1931 in Pittston, Pennsylvania to Joseph and Petrina Panzitta. He moved to lower Manhattan and then the Bronx, New York, graduating from Stuyvesant High School. At 17, he joined the Coast Guard, where he trained at Cape May, New Jersey and was deployed to Hawaii, Guam, the Philippines, and Cocos Island. He was honorably discharged in 1952 as an Electronics Technician, and he moved back to New York City where he took a job as an electronics inspector with Signal Corps Supply. In 1954, he began engineering studies at the RCA Institute. After graduation in 1956, he moved to Baltimore to begin working as an electronics engineer at the Glen L. Martin Company while continuing his education at Johns Hopkins University. He moved to Orlando with the Martin Company in 1958 where he met Judy, and they were married on April 28, 1962. He spent five years in electronics sales based in Orlando, and then he joined the Naval Training Device Center in 1967. He worked at the Center in various engineering and management roles until his retirement in 2001, including a two-year on-site assignment leading the development of the Trident Training Facility at Submarine Base Bangor in Poulsbo, Washington. He has remained active with the Center’s historical society and with his colleagues from the Martin Company.
In addition to his technical interests, Jim loved the challenge and freedom of the outdoors. He was a scuba diver in the early days of the sport, diving in Florida and the western Bahamas. He was also a private pilot, having part ownership in several small aircraft. He enjoyed flying from Florida to the Bahamas to the Northeast. He was also active in fraternal and philanthropic organizations, including the Free and Accepted Masons, Scottish Rite, Bahia Shrine, Elks Lodge, and the American Legion.
Travel continued to be one of Jim’s passions, whether visiting family, seeing new places and cultures, or participating in fraternal or charitable events across the country. He traveled twice across the continental United States, visited both coasts of Canada, traveled to Australia and New Zealand, drove across Sweden and Denmark, cruised to Alaska and the Caribbean, and celebrated New Years in Mexico. He enjoyed visiting family in far flung places like Alabama, New York, Santa Barbara, Salt Lake City, New Jersey, Seattle, San Diego, Atlanta, Missouri, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.
A celebration of Jim’s life will be held at Baldwin Fairchild Funeral Home (7520 Aloma Ave, Winter Park FL 32792) on Friday, December 20 at 2pm with a viewing at noon.
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