Cover photo for James D. Labelle's Obituary
1950 James 2024

James D. Labelle

December 14, 1950 — April 21, 2024

James Darryl LaBelle passed away peacefully at his home on Bainbridge Island, Washington on April 21, 2024. He was preceded in death by his wonderful wife Kathleen Ann Ford LaBelle and loving parents Russell and Doloris. He is survived by his son Sean Christopher Ford LaBelle and his sister Cheri LaBelle.

Jim was born in Minneapolis during the holiday season of 1950. His early years were spent on the north side of the same neighborhood in which his mother and father were raised. Many happy days were spent at the family lake home on Lake Koronis. Jim graduated from Wayzata High School in 1968.

As a result of a diving accident and spinal cord injury in 1969, he used a wheelchair for the remainder of his life. He received both a bachelor’s degree and a jurisprudence degree from the University of Minnesota.

He practiced law for a short time on the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation in South Dakota and a housing agency in San Jose, California. He also taught at St. Petersburg College in Florida. He enjoyed traveling and took road trips with his sister Cheri, Kathleen, and other friends throughout the US, Europe, Africa, New Zealand, and Hawaii.

Jim moved to Bainbridge Island in 1997 when Sean was 4 and Kathleen had recently passed away from complications from a bone marrow transplant for leukemia. With help from many in the Bainbridge community, Jim’s best years were watching Sean grow, perform on stage, and run as part of the cross country and track teams.

Jim was a vocal advocate for disability rights and recently wrote a book about the challenges and joys of being a wheelchair user. The book, titled “Wheelchair Bound?” is his attempt to shatter the myth that a wheelchair is restrictive and that it instead gave him the freedom to do all he did.
The book can be found at:

He had several near-death experiences but always fought to survive to enjoy another sunny day. He truly found something to enjoy every day.

There will be a graveside service at Alta Mesa Cemetery in Palo Alto, California, where Jim will be laid to rest near his wife Kathleen.

Celebrate the good times and keep the memories alive!

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of James D. Labelle, please visit our flower store.


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