James Brennan Clapp, devoted husband of Lee Ann Bradley and beloved brother, uncle and friend to many near and far, passed away peacefully at his Missoula home on Sunday, Oct. 7, at the age of 70. Jim lived the last years of his life dealing with ALS with great dignity and courage.
Jim was born in Sacramento, California on Aug. 8, 1948, the son of Montana natives Frank and Adah Clapp, and the grandson of Charles Clapp, former president of the University of Montana. Growing up in Northern California, Jim was among the first graduating classes from the University of California, Santa Cruz, earning a degree in philosophy. He later received his law degree from Boston College. To help pay for his studies, he took many jobs — he was a bike messenger for Rocket Messenger Service in San Francisco, a steel mill worker in Georgia and a hasher in the Wellesley College dining hall.
Jim began his legal career in the 1970s as a prosecutor in the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office. He later transitioned to civil law, and spent more than two decades working at Carroll, Burdick & McDonough LLP in the firm’s San Francisco and Sacramento offices. Jim moved to Missoula more than 15 years ago, making a new life in the state of his forebears, where he continued his work as a litigator.
Jim loved sports and competed at the highest levels. A scratch golfer in high school and college, Jim became a runner and triathlete as a young adult, entering dozens of races around the country and completing two Ironman triathlons in Hawaii. A longtime member of the Olympic Club in San Francisco, he was Founder and Commissioner of the Olympic Club Triathlon Team. He later focused on biking, joining family and friends on countless rides and races, including multiple centuries. Jim also enjoyed basketball, skiing and hiking.
Jim was socially conscious and involved in many aspects of the Missoula community. He served on the Missoula Food Bank and Community Center board for several years, chaired the Governance Committee and was on the Building Task Force, planning for the new facility. He was on the Board of the Missoula Symphony Association. Jim had a great love for music, from Pavarotti to Petty, and sang with the Symphony Chorale and the Mendelssohn Club of which he was President for several years.
Jim had a deep connection to Italy, where he had spent a year in college and later worked in the Bank of America’s Rome office. He visited Italy multiple times, making lifelong friends, and regularly sprinkled his speech with Italian phrases.
Jim is survived by his wife Lee Ann; sister Mary C. Miller, of Sacramento, Calif.; nephew Jim Miller and his family Ellen Chrismer, June and Clare, of Sacramento; niece Margaret Dennison and her family Jed, Wesley and Paul; step-children Jocelyn Spoon and her family Elyse, Anna, and Emily; Daniel Spoon and his family Chase, Myla, Dan, and Maylen; Bryan Spoon and his wife Ali, all of Missoula, and by many cousins and friends the world over.
A memorial service will be held Sunday, Nov. 4 at 2 p.m. at the University Center North Ballroom, University of Montana. In lieu of flowers, donations in Jim’s memory may be made to the Missoula Food Bank and Community Center, the Frank and Adah Clapp Memorial Scholarship at the University of Montana College of Business, or the Missoula Symphony Association.
A memorial service in the San Francisco Bay Area is being planned as well.