Capt. James Gerard Fagnant

Capt. James Gerard Fagnant (US Navy, Retired) died peacefully from complications following long-term health issues in Oxnard, Calif., on Oct. 20, 2019, at the age of 83. Jim and his family were longtime residents of the China Lake-Ridgecrest community. He graduated from Burroughs High School in 1955.

Jim is survived by his wife Donna J of Camarillo; children, John W. Fagnant, Robert A. Fagnant and Anita A. Fagnant; and siblings Barbara Wehan, William Fagnant, Richard Fagnant and Peter Fagnant. Donna’s children from marriage are Susan Walker, Mark Mitchell, and Kathy Wilhelm, whom Jim honored as his own. He has many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

James was born on Dec. 31, 1935, in Seattle to Ward and Denise Fagnant. He graduated from Portland University in 1958 with a degree in physics. In 1976 he received an MBA from Cal Lutheran College.

He married Sandra Wells upon graduation from college in 1958. He entered the U.S. Air Force as an officer and became a pilot. After several years, Jim swapped services to become a helicopter pilot for the U.S. Navy.

Over four years, the couple welcomed three children into their home, and Jim was a great example to them throughout life. They divorced in 1978. Jim re-married to Donna in 1983. He retired from the Navy with the rank of captain and remained in service to his country as a civil servant. His children remember him as a devoted father, athlete and adventurous outdoorsman. Most important, he set an example of community service and Christian life that has affected many lives.

Jim was an accomplished pilot and systems engineer. He often brought his technical skills to his many DIY projects. He was generous with his time and volunteered routinely in service to others. He loved the outdoors and was passionate about hiking, fishing and the High Sierra. He was an active and dedicated member of the St. Mary Magdalen Church and often volunteered there and in its community.

A vigil and viewing will be held at Griffin Family Funeral Chapels (1075 E. Daily Dr., Camarillo) on Sunday, Nov. 3, from 5-8 p.m. with Rosary Prayer at 7 p.m.. A funeral is planned at 11 a.m., Monday, Nov. 4, at St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church (25 N. Las Posas Rd., Camarillo). Father Preston Passos will officiate the ceremony. Burial will be at Conejo Mountain Memorial Park immediately following. All are welcome to attend and celebrate Jim’s life.

In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to either the American Heart Association at or to Catholic Charities at The family would like to thank all the medical community that has worked and cared for Jim this past few years for their dedication.

— Submitted by the family of James Fagnant

Story First Published: 2019-11-01