Tuesday, December 07, 2021

James Clifford Grist

| November 17, 2021 7:15 AM

James Clifford Grist was born on Thanksgiving Day Nov. 22, 1945 and died Oct. 13, 2021 in Perpignan, France.  He had been ill with various health problems. Services and burial were held in Perpignan.

James grew up in Apgar, Glacier National Park and attended Apgar School.  The Grists were prominent Montana pioneers who settled in the Flathead Valley in 1888.  Both James’ father and grandfather were mayors of Columbia Falls.  James was a proud graduate of CFHS, class of 1963. 

James enrolled in the University of Montana and graduated with a B.A in English in 1968.  He then joined the Peace Corps and served two years in Morocco.  He received a master’s degree from the Thunderbird School (now part of Arizona State University) in 1972. 

The years 1973 - 1985 saw James working as an administrative manager in Saudi Arabia and Mauritania.  From 1986 - 2013 James taught English to the Royal Saudi Air Force.  He also held teaching positions within the Kuwaiti and Omani Ministries of defense. 

James was very fond of the Arab world, and travelled extensively both for work and pleasure.  He made many trips and excursions throughout Saudi Arabia in his sporty red and very fast Mercedes convertible.  He was a keen follower of T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia)  He once came across the remains of a train blown up by Lawrence.   James was a totally self-reliant person and lived life to its fullest.  He visited countries and had adventures that most of us have only read about.

James loved France and all things French.  He first became enamored of France while teaching business English to students in Algeria.  He later purchased an apartment in Paris.  Prior to his retirement he taught at various business schools and the Universite de Paris.  In 2016 he retired in Perpignan in the south of France.

James was well travelled and visited five continents.  He was also very well read.  His favorite authors were Graham Greene, Somerset Maughan, and Earnest Hemingway.  He particularly enjoyed Graham Greene’s “Comedians.” He went to Haiti and stayed at the Hotel Olofson.  He later wrote an article about his Haitian adventures.

James is survived by his sister and brother-in-law Margaret and James Wright, of Everett Washington, and very special friends John and Megumi Wood of Paris, France.