Sage of the Canyons

Jim Sleeper (1927-2012)

  • September 29, 2012 - We have lost the last of the canyons early founders, Jim Sleeper.  Jim passed peacefully in his sleep at his home in Tustin early Thursday after an extended illness.  He was instrumental in the forming of our cabin association and volunteer fire department in the mid-1940's and is the only member who was named a Lifetime Member of both organizations.  A California native, Jim enjoyed an exciting life growing up in rural Orange County where his father was a County official. He learned early in life of his interest in history and journalism and became the Orange County historian that the Irvine Company and various publications turned to for historical information.  Jim also authored numerous books including the Orange County Almanac and The Boy's Book of Bears each written with a unique type of humor and attention to details. His real love, besides his wife Nola, was the Santa Ana Mountains that he explored throughout his life and served as a Forest Service Supervisor.  He built a massive stone cabin at the trailhead in Holy Jim Canyon in the late 1940's, after serving in the USA Glider Corps during WWII, where he spent many happy days and was a mentor for many canyonites and visitors.  Jim leaves behind a legacy of many roles; forest ranger, writer, fire fighter, poet, geologist, military veteran, and historian to name a few.  His kindly personality, his unique sense of humor, and his ability to quietly lead and set an example that will be long remembered by anyone who knew Jim.  The Association and Fire Department extend their condolences to Jim's wife and family members.

    ~Dave Niederhaus, Holy Jim Volunteer Fire Chief

    Tribute to a 'Canyonite', Janet Whitcomb, October 30, 2012, Lake Forest Patch

    Jim Sleeper - 2009

    OC History Roundup Article | OC Register Article

Jim's Memorial

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Jim Sleeper at the dedication of Dana Point Harbor, 1966