Somerville/Medford Remembering James J. Bremis

Our sincere condolences, thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of James J. Bremis on his passing.

James J. Bremis was a wonderful person who will be sadly missed here in both Somerville and Medford.

James J. Bremis, devoted husband of the late Sophie Bremis (Pelevanow), passed gently and lovingly into God’s hands on June 9th, 2022. All five of his children were by his side. He will be remembered for his toothy, contagious smile, his vibrant and positive energy, a never-ending love of learning, and a life defined by dedication and faith – a faith that guided him as a husband, father, grandfather, businessman, servant, and leader. James is survived by his five children, Stephen, Irene, Thalia (Causey, of Carlsbad, CA), Chris, and Maria (of Washington DC), seven grandchildren, two step-grandchildren, son-in-law, Jeff Causey, daughter-in-law, Brenda Hoffman Bremis, and 13 nieces and nephews. He is the brother of the late John S. Bremis. He was a bright light and will be dearly missed.
Born in 1928 to the parents of non-English speaking Greek immigrants, Jim was truly a self-taught, self-made man. Although he raised his family in Belmont, MA, he was a brick-bottom Somerville native and never left the city of his youth, choosing to set his business roots in Teele Square Somerville, where, after 67 years, his real estate legacy still lives on. A hard worker from the outset, he held three jobs at once to help support his family. In addition to being a paper boy and the number one helper at his father’s fruit stand, he spent 11 of his early years, before joining the army and serving in the Korean War, working in the backroom of a grocery store chain baking bread, eventually rising to manager, but determined when he came out of the service to do something more. Towards that end, he took a real estate class and was not only inspired to purchase his first home at the age of 26, but was also inspired to start his own company, which he did in 1955 at 27 years of age. At the age of 33 he married the love of his life, moved briefly to a bucolic ranch with a never-filled stable in Carlisle, MA and started a family. Four children and five years later he moved to Belmont, where his last child was born. Life was full, and at the very least each year on July 4th and Christmas, and major life events, the entire house was full with extended family, loved ones, laughter, and loads of amazing food.
Firmly entrenched in community filled with family and friends, Jim served several terms as president and on the Parish Council of the Greek Orthodox church in Somerville, chaired the Boston branch of the American Cancer Society, worked closely with local, state, and national politicians and traveled the world with the National Association of Realtors, eventually achieving lifetime Realtor Emeritus status. But having one’s own business, despite how it energized and challenged him, meant long hours and seven-day work weeks. His kids, all of whom he and Sophie instilled with a strong work ethic, each started in the family business in middle school, and even remember holidays in the office, because ‘it only takes one customer to make a sale or get a listing.’ Consequently, vacation time became coveted by the entire family. Invariably this meant traveling to Florida, and the time spent in his home on the Gulf coast was something he cherished for being with his wife and kids, meeting up with dear friends from back home and Canada, fishing, eating, listening to the crashing waves, watching breaching dolphins, boats, and sunsets from his balcony. Until they could travel no more, Florida became the most anticipated time of year for both Jim and Sophie and became their winter home and anniversary get-away.
At the age of 86, he finally retreated from the business to care for his beloved wife, and upon her passing embraced the role of spirit-lifter, bathroom-singer, and daily deliverer of inspirational quotes. He leaves his children and loved ones with a lifetime of fun and quirky stories to share, from dancing on tables balancing glasses on his head and throwing plates, to making himself dandelion soup from roadside pickings to highlighting and underlining sometimes every word of every one of the vast amount of newspapers and books he read (and saved) daily to commit them to his stellar memory. His depression-era frugality led him to cramming his young family of seven into a Gremlin with at least as many pieces of luggage to get the compact rate, to serving up a childhood of watered-down frozen orange juice, unheated pool water justified as being ‘invigorating’, and cries of seeing dollar signs fly out the doors when a window or door was left ajar. Once embarrassed now proud of his children fondly remember the labeling of daily lunches on brown paper bags in full-on Greek. An unofficial bible scholar, his devoutness and discipline meant rising every morning at 5:00am to read the bible, eventually managing to read it over eight times from cover to cover. Ever ahead of his time and willing to adjust to changing trends in business and for his health, he took cod-liver oil daily while his children cringed, rubbed olive oil in his hair, ate all the wrong parts of cows, lambs, and fish, and declared that his favorite dessert was strawberry ice-cream with anchovies topped with butterscotch. The list goes on and on and on.
Dad, you brightened the lives of so many that were lucky enough to know you. We clap our hands to you, we sing off-key to you, we raise our diluted juice glasses to you. Your spirit and light and love is inside of us and will live on in us and your grandchildren. We are so blessed and proud to call you our father.
Funeral procession from the George L. Doherty Funeral Home, 855 Broadway (Powder House Sq.) Somerville, Tuesday morning at 10:00am, followed by a Funeral Service in St. Athanasius the Great Greek Orthodox Church, 21 Appleton St, Arlington, MA 02476 at 11:00. Relatives and friends invited. Visiting hours, Monday 4:00 – 7:00. Interment Highland Meadow Cemetery, Belmont. Late Veteran, US Army, Korea.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in James memory to the Dormition of the Virgin Mary Greek Orthordox Church, 29 Central St, Somerville, MA 02143.

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