James E. “Sonny” Jaudon (101) died peacefully in his sleep in Bradenton, FL on March 24, 2021.
Sonny (Papa J) married Velma Charlotte Shore (Mama J) on July 4th 1942 and lived a loving and caring life together for 71 years. Raising 4 men; Jimmie (Anne) Fred (Cindy), Jeffrey (Jan) and Jon (Marcia). Papa J and Mama J’s family grew to 12 grand-children and 24 great grandchildren. Sonny grew up in West Palm Beach and Tampa the son of James Elton Jaudon Sr. (1946) and Ethel Walston Jaudon (1929). His mother named him “Sonny” because of his disposition and attitude. He graduated from Palm Beach High in 1939. A Navy Veteran of WWII leaving the service as a Storekeeper 1st Class. Sonny was born in Lebanon, KY on his mother’s family homestead, as were all his siblings (Porter, Ilda (Chuck), Lillian (Ping) and Herbert (Bert)). After his mother’s death he moved to Ballast Point, Tampa to work on his uncle Jack King’s dairy farm (now part of MacDill AFB), returning to West Palm Beach to attend high school. He always said his life experiences on the farm taught him the values that would define his life.
Life in High School was very good for Sonny. He excelled in baseball and football. Elected captain of both sports his senior year. In 1938 he was selected as “Best All Around” and in 1939 as “Most Athletic”. In addition, he was the Vice President of his Junior and senior Class. The Sports Editor for the Palm Beach Post Times, Bob Balfe, wrote in 1939, following a losing football game to Pahokee High School:
“He (Sonny) grabbed us by the arm. He looked like he wanted to cry but couldn’t, it was his last game and it wasn’t a happy ending. But do you think he wanted to tell us an alibi. Not Sonny, that lad who is going to be a real man grabbed our hand and said: Give them credit Bob. They really won it. Be sure to give them credit!” This was the essence of Sonny Jaudon.
After the war, starting as a delivery driver for a sausage company, wholesale grocery salesman, operations manager for Port of Palm Beach, Director of Port of Palm Beach, Director City of West Palm Beach Housing Authority and eventually to Director Port Manatee from which he retired in 1981. These accomplishments are the direct result of his no quit work ethic, common sense approach, fairness and ability to build lasting relationships. Everybody wanted Sonny on their team!
1974 he coached/managed at every level from Little League to American Legion Baseball. He was recognized by the Major League Scouts Association for his many contributions. In 2008 Sonny was inducted into the Palm Beach County Sports Hall of Fame in recognition in his efforts in developing a self- sustaining model for supporting American Legion Baseball. He was a part of several state titles, regional titles and participation in the Legion Baseball National Championship. Sonny’s leadership style of developing fundamental skills, instilling a sense of competitiveness and discipline while making it fun made him well respected and remembered by hundreds of kids.
Sonny was also very active in the American Legion Post 12, serving twice as Commander. He also was active in the Propellor Club and the Exchange Club, serving as president of both organizations. Sonny also organized many Palm Beach High School class of 1939 reunions. Sonny loved the Florida Gators and spent many Saturdays glued to the radio/TV. As he would often shout, GO GATORS!.
Sonny was gifted with a winning smile an uncanny sense of what is right, compassion for others and an inspiring attitude for the future. As the Jaudon family, we are charged to keep his memory and his spirit alive.