November 9, 1939 –
May 7, 2020
James Galbraith “Jim” Petty died On May 7, 2020 at age 80 in
Raleigh, NC in home hospice care, surrounded by his family after a
courageous fight with cancer. Jim was born on November 9, 1939 in
Lima, Ohio to William and Jean Petty and raised in the small town of
Wapakoneta, Ohio with 3 brothers and 3 sisters. After graduating
from Augusta Military Academy in Fort Defiance, Virginia, he
attended the University of Virginia where he received a Bachelor of
Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering. After being commissioned
as a Naval Officer on June 2, 1962, he served as a Navy Fighter
Pilot in the U.S. Navy from June 1962 to February 1966. While flying
the F-4 Phantom supersonic fighter jet as a member of “The
Be-Devilers” of FIGHTER SQUADRON 74 (VF 74), Lieutenant Petty
completed two 9-month deployments on the USS FORRESTAL (CV 59),
executed numerous night/day carrier landings and air-to-air
engagements with Russian aircraft, and received 2 Battle Efficiency
Awards from the Atlantic Fleet Commander for his “excellent
demonstration and high degree of proficiency in weapons delivery” as
a Radar Intercept Officer. While on leave in Virginia Beach, VA at a
costume party, Jim met the love of his life and wife of 55 years,
Claudette (Saleeby) Petty.
When he asked her what she did for a
living, she decided to tell a story and say she was a country music
singer, despite being a teacher, which Jim found funny and
endearing. After an international romance through letters and calls
that included Jim buying a diamond ring during a port visit in
Naples, Italy and mailing it to her, Jim and Claudette were married
in Wilson, NC on April 10, 1965.
After getting married and leaving the Navy, Jim started his
professional Engineering career. He worked as a Mechanical Engineer
at J-B Tool & Machine with his brother William “Bill” Petty in
Wapakoneta, Ohio; EB White in Wilson, NC; and ultimately at the
Square D Corporation in Knightdale, NC where he worked for over 25
years after settling in Raleigh, NC.
Jim lived in the beautiful city of Raleigh, NC for over 45 years
with his wife, raising 2 children (Richard and David) , playing
tennis, going on beach vacations, and surrounding himself with an
incredible group of family and friends too numerous to mention.
He spent the sweet years of his retirement building custom
furniture, landscaping, gardening, cooking, hosting large family
gatherings, and spending quality time with his wife, children,
grandchildren, nieces, nephews, and friends.
Jim had an amazing life and the love he shared with all of us will
never be forgotten. Jim is survived by his wife Claudette Petty of
Raleigh, NC; son Richard (Cathy) Petty of Raleigh, NC; son David
(Lisa) Petty of Virginia Beach, VA; grandchild Drew Snodgrass of
Charleston, SC; grandchild Hannah (Chris) Xaros of Layton, UT;
grandchild Stella Petty of Virginia Beach, VA; grandchildren Helen
Grace Petty, Sullivan Petty, and Ryan Petty of Raleigh, NC; sister
Martha Holloron of Saint Augustine, FL; brother George (Ann) Petty
of Florence, AL; brother Tom (Alice) Petty of King William, VA;
sister-in-law Shirley Willett of Raleigh, NC; niece Tamara Petty of
Chapel Hill, NC; and great niece Sara Petty of Winston Salem, NC.
Jim is preceded in death by his father William Petty, mother Jean
Petty, sister Jane Klopfenstein, sister Chris Petty, brother William
“Bill” Petty, and brother-in-law Michael Willett.
be cremated after a private viewing on May 11, 2020. Funeral plans
will be announced when COVID-19 restrictions
are lifted so that more than 10 people can attend the Funeral and
appropriate Military Honors can be given.
We will reach out to family and friends when we know more. In lieu
please make contributions to the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network at