Longtime Herald columnist James McCusker dies at 82

He passed away June 21 after a fall weeks earlier. He had written for The Herald since the 1980s.

James McCusker

James McCusker

EVERETT — James McCusker, a decades-long business columnist for The Daily Herald, died Sunday at the age of 82.

He had written articles for the newspaper every week since the late 1980s, said his daughter, Marianne McCusker. He lived on the Snohomish County side of Bothell and spent more than 40 years in the same home.

McCusker grew up on the East Coast, in New York, Boston and Washington, D.C. His father was an insurance agent and his mother was a homemaker. He had an older sister.

He attended Cornell University and at first planned to study engineering. It wasn’t the right fit. He did take interest in the math part of that subject, though, and became an economist.

McCusker served in the U.S. Coast Guard in the 1960s and taught for a couple of years at the U.S. Naval Academy while he and his family lived in Washington, D.C. They moved to the West Coast in 1975.

They started off on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, where some friends had settled. McCusker interviewed for a job at a university there but never heard back. He figured they chose another candidate and accepted a different job at a Seafirst Bank branch in Bothell.

About a month later, he heard back from the school, whose leaders wondered where he was. He had been chosen for the job, after all.

“I think he thought of it as a happy accident,” Marianne McCusker said.

Later, he hosted a radio show called “Destination Economics,” which aired on KPLU-FM and KSER-FM for about 10 years, Marianne McCusker said.

In the 1990s, McCusker taught for Washington State University in the hotel and restaurant management school in Seattle for about five years.

Marianne McCusker is not sure how her father began to write for The Herald but wonders if the opportunity might have come from the radio show.

“He loved learning about the area,” Marianne McCusker said. “I think that’s why he was grateful for the column.”

He enjoyed meeting new people and writing about issues here at a time of major growth. He was interested in finding out how that growth affected businesses and how people were adapting, Marianne McCusker said.

McCusker was an avid reader.

“He took in a tremendous amount of information reading newspapers and online journals,” Marianne McCusker said. “He would sort of fashion that into what he knew would be interesting to him, and what he knew would be interesting for the readers.”

McCusker’s final column ran Feb. 7. Around that time he fell ill with the flu, Marianne McCusker said.

McCusker fell while on a walk June 6, on what would have been his and his wife’s 61st wedding anniversary. His wife, Mary Elizabeth McCusker, died in 2002.

Marianne McCusker is their only child and lives in Bothell. Her dad passed away on Father’s Day at the EvergreenHealth Medical Center in Kirkland.

“One thing that was fortunate, his mind was working until the end,” she said. “And I think that’s something to be very grateful for.”

Stephanie Davey: 425-339-3192; sdavey@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @stephrdavey.

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