Cover photo for James Joseph Raciti's Obituary
James Joseph Raciti Profile Photo
1933 James 2024

James Joseph Raciti

November 19, 1933 — February 26, 2024

Rio Rancho, New Mexico

Age 90, passed away February 26, 2024. He was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on November 19, 1933, to Julia and Antonio Raciti. 


He entered Girard College, a private preparatory school in 1941, joining his older brother, Charles a student there. James excelled at track, gymnastics and was a leader of the Swing Band. After graduating from Girard College in 1951, he attended Temple University for two years (1956-1958) and then continued his education in Europe earning two Masters Degrees (English and French) at the University of Grenoble in France (1958-1962) and a PhD in Comparative Literature at the University of Zaragoza, Spain (1966).


Remaining in Europe after receiving his degrees, he was employed as an educator and administrator and worked for the University of Salamanca, The American College of Barcelona, and the University of Maryland’s European Division based in Heidelberg. While working for the University of Maryland overseas he was responsible for staffing and administering its classes at all its Mediterranean and Middle East sites. 


James then joined the US Air Force’s European Education Program which provided academic opportunities from accredited US-based universities to service men and women. In this capacity, he served as Education Services Officer in Madrid, Spain and Ramstein, Germany throughout the early 1980’s.               


Upon returning to the States for the Air Force in the mid-1980’s James became Deputy Director of Education HQ Pacific Command at Hickman Air Force Base, Hawaii. He then went on to become the Air Force's Director for Education Services Career Program in San Antonio, TX. Following that appointment, he then was selected to become the Director of Education and Training for US Space Command and oversaw worldwide Space Command Education Programs from Colorado Springs, Colorado. 


During his tenure at Space Command, James attended and graduated from Harvard University’s MLE (Institute for Management and Leadership in Education) in 1993.


In 1998, he was awarded The Air Force Meritorious Service Medal at the time of his retirement from the US Air Force.


After his retirement, James turned to creative endeavors. He wrote and had published eight novels: Au Revoir a la France; Giacomo; Pulling No Ponchos: An Irreverent History of Santa Fe; Legacy of War; Giacomo’s Peculiar Passion: Payback in Blood; The Verdun Vendetta: The Thomas Amati Story and America’s Revolutionary Voices: Conversations from a New Nation. 


His non-fiction works included Ask about Santa Fe; Old Santa Fe, A Brief Review of History; Ask about Florida; and Carrabelle, Florida’s Forgotten Coast published in the same volume along with his play, Invitation at Dawn: Ernest Hemingway’s Final Hours.


In 2015, he wrote a definitive biography of Stephen Girard, titled Stephen Girard, America’s Colonial Olympian, 1750-1831.


He has four poetry collections to his credit, Charles, a tribute to his older brother; The Bird Chart Boy which contains poems about his childhood and experiences at Girard College; Reflections Beyond and Viewing My Self. 


Also to his credit are three plays, Tallahassee by the Sea; The Song of Roland; and Invitation at Dawn, a play about the last hours of Ernest Hemingway’s life. The last two plays were directed and produced by James and debuted in Heidelberg, Germany. 


In 2023, James received “The Girard College Alumni Award of Merit” for his “Loyalty, Service and Accomplishments” to Girard College. 


Throughout his life, literature, art, music, and the cinema shaped his character, personality, and prolific, creative spirit. He loved reading especially the English, French, and Spanish classics from the Nineteenth Century; visiting museums and listening to the music of Tony Bennet, Frank Sinatra, Al Martino, Ella Fitzgerald, Demis Rousoss, and his long time friend, entertainer Steve Grimm. 


As the film director Federico Fellini said, “There is no beginning. There is no end. There is only the infinite passion of life.” James would have agreed. 



James was preceded in death by his parents, his brother, Rosario (Charles) Raciti, and his son, Charles A. Raciti.


James is survived by his wife of 25 years, Maryhelen Jones, his son, Marc Christian Raciti (Sonja Louise Raciti), and his daughter, Claudia Anne Raciti Gwinn (Chad Gwinn) and eight grandchildren. 


In lieu of flowers please send memorial contributions to Shiloh’s Animal Rescue, “dedicated to saving animals from euthanasia.” Los Osos, California.


A private Committal Service will take place on Friday, March 15, 2024 at the Santa Fe National Cemetery, Santa Fe, NM.  Gravesite is located in section 15B, space 479.



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