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Past Commodore James C. Acheson

Authored by Cindy Badley
April 12, 2023

     Past Commodore James C. Acheson, 86, of Port Huron passed away on April 2, 2023. He had been a member for 56 years.

     Commodore Acheson joined in 1968 and became a member-at-large of the board of directors in 1981. He was elected Vice Commodore in 1986 serving under David Landry until becoming Commodore in 1988. Subsequent to his watch he was elected fleet captain, an office he held for 25 years.

     Early on he codified uniform standards for the Club and promoted proper flag etiquette. In 1988 he established the Club’s first computer system, establishing a database for the nearly 3,000 active membership records previously kept on 3x5 cards in a shoebox. He oversaw the conversion of the Port Pilot to word processing.

     Jim created the Admiral Bayfield Award to recognize members for their extensive Great Lakes Cruising and established the William J. Kivell Award for outstanding performance by a port captain. He created the position of Port Captain Coordinator and wrote the first Port Captain’s Handbook.

     In his second year as Commodore Jim instituted “Spring Break” (initially “Winter Break”), first held at the Isles Yacht Club in Punta Gorda, Florida. He was the recipient of the Award of Merit, the William J. Kivell Memorial Award and the Admiral Bayfield Award.

     Acheson attended Culver Military Academy and the University of Michigan. He retired from business in 1998 after leading his family’s hundred-year-old global specialty chemicals enterprise. In his later years he focused on philanthropy and community development in his hometown. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters in 2002 for his philanthropic contributions.

     Jim held a 150-ton Coast Guard master’s license and was a two-term member of the Coast Guard’s Rules of the Road Advisory Council (now BSAC). He had been protocol officer for the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club and a member of the New York Yacht Club for 43 years. He had been a district commander and had chaired four national committees during his 61-year membership in USPS.

     Jim’s classic 1979 57-foot Pacemaker motoryacht Lady J carried him over 67,000 miles throughout the Great Lakes, the Canadian Maritimes, the East and Gulf Coasts of the United States, the Bahamas and Cuba.

     He is survived by his wife Susan Nelson Acheson, his three adult children, Larry, Joe and Dan, and his six grandchildren. He was preceded in death by an infant son.

Tue, 04/18/2023 - 20:50


JCA as a true yachtsman was an incredible asset to the GLCC.  In his profile his Club Roles are quite understated.  If all the roles he held were actually visible people would be amazed.