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In loving memory of
James Paul Frey
  • April 07, 1947
  • -
  • September 19, 2021

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Obituary

James Paul Frey, also known as “Coach Frey” or “Large Frey,” born April 7, 1947, passed away due to complications associated with COVID-19 on September 19, 2021 at the age of 74, in Tampa, Florida. What do you say about a man who was frequently described as larger than life? I promise these short words will not capture the impact Jim had on those who knew him. In life, Jim was a husband, a father, a mentor, a coach, a man of faith, a veteran, a hard-working man and the very definition of self-made. Born in Cleveland, Ohio and raised by James and Margaret Frey; Jim grew up loving and playing the game of basketball. He would go onto play basketball for Gannon University before leaving school to enlist in the United States Air Force. After completing his four years of service, Jim left the Air Force in 1969. With no college education, Jim would begin his civilian career as linemen for the Illuminating Company in Cleveland, Ohio. In the years following, Jim would go on to attain his BA and MBA from Baldwin Wallace University. He would use this education, and his ever-present leadership skills, to advance within the companies he worked for before semi-retiring in 2015 as Director, Internal Resources for KAM Services in Tampa, Florida. Those who knew him best, knew Jim to be a man of strong convictions. No one would ever accuse Jim of being shy about sharing what he believed to be right, just or correct. However, Jim was more known for being a kind soul who was forever giving to those within the communities he lived. Jim may have loved the game of basketball but more than that, he loved using basketball as a tool to teach kids about life and the importance of education. He loved his neighbors and, without prompting or a request, Jim could be counted on to lend a hand to a friend or neighbor in need. Above all else, Jim valued God and his family. Jim is survived by, and lived his life in service to, those whom he loved more than anything else: the unquestioned love of his life, his own living angel and wife, Carol Ann Frey. His shadow, and his son, James Christopher Frey (aka “Small Frey” or “Jim Jr.”). His Brother-in-law Bob Craggs, Sister-in-law Bev Craggs and nephews Colton and Cameron Craggs. Jim/Dad, you were indeed larger than life. The hole you have left behind for those you have mentored and loved can never be filled but we will live each day with your memories and live our lives in your honor.

Private remembrance services will be held for close family.


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  1. Gary Tischler says:
    29 Sep 2021
    I knew Jim from old CEI days at east 24 service ctr. He trained me when I was in line school learning to climb poles.Jim was a great guy,he was also a great foreman at E24th& Solon service centers. It's because of guys like Jim that I can say I was able to retire 28yrs later as a Leader lineman!! Thanks Jim For everything you did. Gary"Tish" Tischler

  2. Alex & Ariela Montalvo Family lit a candle:
    28 Sep 2021
    Lit since September 28, 2021 at 9:16:29 AM

  3. Joseph Massaro Jr and Family says:
    27 Sep 2021
    I read about all the friends Jim and family had in Tampa FL area. All that knew Jim had great things to say about being a great friend and neighbor. My family and I knew Jim and family back in Strongsville Ohio. Jim and family were our next door neighbors . I've often felt and considered Jim not only a great neighbor but also a best friend. Our kids played many different sports throughout the years and Jim coached my son and daughter, Joe III and Missy in various sports. Many a Friday nights we would meet for pizza after the kids games and enjoy a game of Uno. That's when I gave Jim's son Chris the nickname Uno. We always talked about the week while having pizza and beers.
    Jim and son Chris served the country in the Air Force. Jim was so proud of my daughter Missy when she got a pilot slot in the Air Force. He was always positive, a great coach, leader and influence on my kids and several others in Strongsville. Having them as neighbors was the best thirteen years while in Ohio.
    Love you Pal, God bless see you on the other side and say hi to my daughter Missy. You had her laughing all the time.

    Love,
    Joe & Family

  4. Linda DeFrancisco lit a candle:
    26 Sep 2021
    Lit since September 26, 2021 at 9:31:34 PM

  5. 2LKZ says:
    26 Sep 2021
    So very sorry to hear of Jim’s passingI knew him well as a fellow CEI employee and admired him in his role as safety director-Haven’t heard from or about him for several years and saddened to hear that he also lived in the Tampa area!

  6. Lynne Muldoon says:
    25 Sep 2021
    I am so saddened to hear about the loss of Jim. I remember as a neighbor, we could always count on Jim for always being there. Thank you for the fond memories, my friend. RIP

  7. Herb Pauly says:
    24 Sep 2021
    To Carol, Jim Jr, and the whole Frey family.
    It is sad to hear the loss of everyone's friend Coach Jim.
    I can remember his great smile and his positive approach to life.
    Joe Lynch, Jim and I played a lot of basketball over our years.
    Jim was a great competitor, coach and good friend.
    All his friends in Strongsville will miss him.
    Herb Pauly

  8. Boyer Brian says:
    24 Sep 2021
    Great neighbor, friend and surrogate pops to our kids Alexis and Ethan. Bridget and I are here for you Carol if you need anything. Truly liked Jim. Gracious and giving man. Love… Brian and Bridget.

  9. Valerie McKenzie says:
    24 Sep 2021
    When my mom and I first moved into the community, Jim was one of the first people we met out on our daily walks. He inquired about who we were and where we came from. When he found out we were from Cleveland that made us instant friends. We spent time reminiscing about the sport teams. He offered to help if we needed anything at all. Every time he saw us walking down the street we would say "Here comes Cleveland!".

    Our thoughts and prayers warmly go out to you Carol and the family!

  10. Mitch Gerken says:
    24 Sep 2021
    The world has lost a true embassador of how to live out one's life through faith and values. I will miss my dear Buckeye friend and our driveway talks about life, work, current affairs, and the Buckeyes. Jim immediately embraced our older son, a fellow journeyman lineman, sharing stories and their fascination with old insulators. We will remember Jim fondly, especially when we hoist both the American flag and the Buckeye banner.

  11. Mary Manry says:
    24 Sep 2021
    My thought and prayers are with you all. A great & unexpected loss of a wonderful neighbor, who, yes, always kindly greeted with a warm smile his neighbors on those daily walks with loving Carol and Scout.
    You are not alone in your grief, and, be encouraged, as you have neighborly friends who stand by to support you with love and strength!

  12. Denise Sanders says:
    24 Sep 2021
    We will miss seeing Jim on his walking routine, smiling and greeting us as he and Carol passed by. My husband Ray, who sufferred many strokes, is especially moved by Jim's passing as he stated "He (Jim) always talked to me when I walked around the block and he would ask how I was feeling and encourage me. I miss him. He was a kind man."

  13. Galen says:
    24 Sep 2021
    Carol and family, you are in our thoughts and prayers. We will miss seeing Jim, Carol and Scout walking the neighborhood. Warmly, Galen & Sandy Carver.

  14. Jim sears says:
    24 Sep 2021
    Wow I am so saddened to hear the passing of jim he was not only a great neighbor but a super nice guy who never minded telling u how he felt. but that’s what I loved about him the most I hope ur resting easy today buddy lots of prayers for carol and the family

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