Jim PartonLongtime Mill Valley resident and highly respected Bay Area attorney James Parton III passed away peacefully from ocular melanoma at his home on June 4. He was 71 years old.

In 1980, after his wife passed away from primary pulmonary hypertension, leaving Jim to raise her boys, who he adopted in 1981. Two years later, Jim hired Maureen Ann Brown, a second-year law student at the University of San Francisco School of Law as his law clerk. They settled in Mill Valley and wed in 1985. Together they explored the joys of hiking and mountain biking. They enjoyed traveling, journeying to Europe and New Zealand. After five years, they expanded the family to include two children, Jane and Nate.

Parton was dedicated to outdoor recreation and the arts, serving on the Mill Valley Parks and Recreation Commission and the board of directors of the West Point Inn Association.

In retirement, Jim vigorously pursued the things he loved best: travel, gardening, hiking, family history and genealogy, and photography. Jim loved a good, rousing political discussion with strong opinions formed consulting a wide variety of sources. While waiting for Maureen to retire as an aide to four southern Marin County Supervisors over the previous 28 years, he managed to slip off to Spain twice, compelled by the shockingly low costs of airline tickets.

At his 50th Loomis Reunion, asked for a piece of advice to new Loomis Chaffee graduates, Jim wrote, “Stay active and healthy. Find a physical fitness regimen that works for you and stay with it. Forty years from now you will be glad you did. Remember that health is the crown that only the sick see.”

In his early fifties Jim was diagnosed with prostate cancer and successfully treated. At the start of the Coronavirus pandemic in April 2020, Jim learned he had ocular melanoma with a genetic marker revealing it as terminal and without effective treatment.

Undeterred, Jim enrolled in an experimental immunotherapy drug trial at the University of California, San Francisco but the cancer progressed, metastasizing to his liver. Upon learning the FDA had approved the first-ever drug for treatment of uveal melanoma, Jim became Stanford University Medical Center’s first patient to receive Tebentafusp; but it too failed to halt the disease. Yet almost to the end he remained active, upbeat and devoted to seeing friends.

Jim was widely admired by clients for his honesty, integrity and clear advice, always to the client’s benefit. In addition to his first wife Diane and son Phillip Jim’s brother Dana predeceased him, in 1991. Survivors include his wife, Maureen Brown Parton, his son from his first marriage, Christopher of Forest Knolls, and two children from his second marriage, Jane and Nathaniel, both of Oakland. In addition, he leaves his sister Sara Parton Pelgrift and her husband James Pelgrift of Danbury, CT and their three children, Samuel, Elisa (Robert Hamilton Wallace, Jr.) and Daniel, and an infant grandniece, Elinor Marie Wallace. Maureen’s family survivors include her siblings Clement R. Brown, III (Barbara Brown), Kathleen Brown (John Cullather), Jeannie Brown, Lisa Lizzo (Tom Lizzo), John Brown (Joann Brown) and several nieces and nephews.

Fernwood Cemetery and Mortuary is handling the arrangements. A Celebration of Life for family and friends will be held on Thursday, July 20 from 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm at the Mill Valley Outdoor Art Club. Please RSVP to partoncelebration@gmail.com with your name and number attending.

The family requests in lieu of flowers that donations be made to the organizations that Jim loved most: The West Point Inn AssociationThe Loomis Chaffee School, or Pine Island Camp.

Jim lived life fully with honesty, integrity and a sense of fun. He didn’t believe in sugar coating or hiding the bracing truths of life behind soft, nondescript, feel-good language. He chronicled his experience participating in experimental drug studies and ultimately the dying process with clear, brute-force language. Near the end, in the ICU, Jim said, “Dying is shitty” and “I don’t want to live like this.” Jim was clear he wanted to die, to die at home. And, that he did.


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