American Veteran 04

MSgt James "Jim" Bosnake USAF (Ret)

May 30, 1932 ~ January 19, 2023 (age 90) 90 Years Old
Obituary Image


A devoted husband to Shirley (deceased); beloved and loving father to Judy, Suzan (David Greer - deceased), George (deceased), and Nora (Sam Pappas); and doting Papou (Grandfather in Greek) to Alexis (George’s daughter), passed away, Thursday, January 19, 2023, at Eglin AFB’s Hospital’s ICU.

The morning of Jim’s death, Nora had Greek music blaring in his ear as he was nearly deaf due to his years spent as a loadmaster on low-altitude cargo planes. It was obvious that he could hear his much-loved bouzouki rich Greek music as his heart rate on his bedside monitor kept time to the music.

Truth be told he was also Sailor dancing in his mind’s eye. This dance was made famous by the movie “Zorba the Greek”.

Jim, Judy, and Suzan had all been exposed to COVID the week before Christmas. All tested positive the week after Christmas. As a result of COVID, Jim was hospitalized with bacterial pneumonia from which he recovered. Unfortunately, his lungs did not fully recover. Jim’s medical team fought the valent fight to clear his lungs of the inflammation that eventually led to his death at 90 years old.

Jim was born in Erie, PA (1932) to deceased Greek immigrant parents: George (Born: Constantinople when Constantinople was Constantinople near the Straits of the Dardanelles) and Bessie Vlahos (Born: Smyrna, Turkey, and ousted by the Turks to Thessaloniki, Greece).  He had two older sisters; Helen (OH) and Koula (FL -deceased); and, two younger brothers; Alex (FL - deceased) and Gus (NC).

Jim grew up working in the family restaurant, fishing in nearby Lake Erie, hunting, and playing clarinet through high school. Soon after high school, Jim opted for the Air Force instead of accepting a college art scholarship.

In 1953, Jim met and married Shirley Cassoutt in Nenana, AK. She had moved there from Saint Louis, MO, and was working as a bank teller. He was stationed at Fairbanks. As with many Air Force families, they globe trotted having babies along the way. They moved from AK to Ardmore, OK (1954-1956); to Ashiya, Japan (1956-1959); to Fayetteville, NC (1959-1964); finally settling in Fort Walton Beach, FL (1964).

After living in Fort Walton Beach for 34 years, Jim and Shirley relocated to Saint Louis, MO, in 1998 to care for Shirley’s aging family. In 2008, Jim returned to Fort Walton Beach to live with his daughter, Nora, and to be near his granddaughter, Alexis.

Jim loved his family and his friends who were like family; traveling the world; going to the beach with his family; hunting; all forms of fishing from fresh water, lake, shore, dock, trolling, trawling, bottom, etc.; sports of any kind, especially football, baseball, softball (both fast and slow pitch), basketball; golf; bowling; dancing, especially the jitterbug and Greek dancing; art (he was a realistic painter at heart); poker; the slots (his favorite haunt was the Island View Resort in Gulf Port, MS); the big band music of his youth; ceramics; cartoons; old time movies; westerns; and TV in general. Jim called square dancing in AK and bingo at the American Legion in Destin. For many years he took on the role of Chaplin at local Military Funerals. While in Fayetteville, NC, he designed and decorated a Lounge at Kay’s Restaurant named the Hiawatha Room in a Native American motif (he used the bird feathers from his hunting excursions in many of his creations). He played catcher on several Air Force Softball teams (both fast pitch and slow pitch). To his kids, he was the player wearing the monkey mask. Some of the older generations might call him a Man’s Man.

Soon after arriving to Fort Walton Beach, Jim moonlighted for the Kelly Corporation in Destin. Initially, as a bartender at the Gateway Lounge where his kids learned to shoot pool on weekend afternoons as he worked. After that, he managed the Kelly Boat Service office where his kids developed a love for deep sea fishing, and then just doing any odd job that Coleman Kelly or Joe Bailey needed doing. The Bosnakes enjoyed the annual hunting trips when one of the Kelly boats relocated to the Apalachicola River for the month of November. Kids and wives stayed Thanksgiving week. Bosnake kids only did so if they had a “B” average in school.

After his retirement from the Air Force (1975), Jim managed the Western Sizzlin Restaurant, the restaurant building has long been gone but the Bay tree he planted “outback” still lives on. He received an AA degree from OWJC. For years, Jim and Shirley painted Sea Spray condos and homes. Then Jim worked out of Homa, LA, as a Cook on several oil platforms. He loved saying he “cooked Cajun, Greek Style”.  He especially loved being on the ones in the Gulf of Mexico because he could bottom fish the platform. According to him, “fishing was always MIGHTY GOOD out there.”

To Jim’s kids and granddaughter, HE WAS SIMPLY THE BEST DAD AND PAPOU EVER. While his young family was growing up, if he was home, he went to every event in which they participated (i.e., swim meets, cheerleading events no matter the sport, dance events, football games, basketball games, baseball games) . . . no matter what, he was just there with Shirley yelling their support from the stands. Everyone knew the Bosnake’s dad/Popou was in attendance because of his very loud infamous throat-vocalized train whistle; it sounded like the real thing. He watched every play, every band performance, and in general, he simply attended everything. He played, hunted, fished, traveled, and much, much, much, more with his family. Truly, Jim remained a “kid” at heart until his last breath. If the car/RV was leaving, Jim was going too!

Jim was a patriot and extremely proud to serve his country in the Air Force. He is a veteran of the Korean War and he did two tours of duty in Viet Nam. He received many Air Force medals, ribbons, and accolades. Every single time the national anthem played on TV, he sang it out loud with gusto to the very top of his lungs.

As a Greek Orthodox, in his youth, Jim was an altar boy and as an adult, he was a Cantor and he loved singing in Church Choirs. While his kids attended St. Mary’s Catholic School, Jim was an active non-Catholic member of the Knights of Columbus. Jim and Shirley were members of and part of the folks who grew Fort Walton Beach’s Sts. Markella and Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church.

In Saint Louis (1998-2008), Jim and his wife Shirley attended the Assumption Greek Orthodox church located just outside of Saint Louis. While there, they were members of the “Kitchen Gang” who weekly served up Greek food as a fundraiser. They also volunteered at annual Greek Festivals.

Upon returning to Fort Walton Beach, Jim rejoined the Sts. Markella and Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church. The fledging Church he helped to build now had a beautiful new building as their place of worship. Their original Church and its connected Hall were so soundly built that the members voted not to demolish them. Instead, they are slowly and methodically refurbishing both areas. Bosnakes were again part of a “Kitchen Gang” cooking up delicious Greek food for weekly Luncheons as a fundraiser from January to March. They also volunteer at annual Greek Festivals.

The Family requests that in lieu of flowers that consideration be given to donating to this Refurbishment Project. Please make checks payable to Sts. Marella and Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church and note on the bottom of the check, for the “Jim Bosnake’s Refurb Fund”. Send checks to: Sts. Markella and Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, 104 Bryn Mawr Blvd, Mary Esther, Florida 32569.

Jim’s Funeral Service is with full Military Honors and is open to the public. Join them this Saturday, January 28th at The Emerald Coast Funeral Home located on Racetrack Road.

10:00 Viewing
11:00 Service

The first 15 minutes or so is the abbreviated Greek Orthodox Memorial Service. Those attending are then invited to share their own “Jim” memories. Everyone then relocates to the outside for the conclusion of the Military Service.

12:00 to 2:00 Food and Fellowship
Bosnakes are serving up some of Jim’s favorite foods.

Please go to for detailed information and links to pertinent data pertaining to Jim Bosnake’s funeral. On this webpage, for those unable to attend, there will be a Live Feed of the Service. Nora is also publishing information on Facebook.

Expressions of love and sympathy may be placed and viewed online at

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of MSgt James "Jim" Bosnake USAF (Ret), please visit our floral store.


January 28, 2023

10:00 AM to 11:00 AM
Emerald Coast Funeral Home
161 Racetrack Road North West
Fort Walton Beach, FL 32547

Funeral Service
January 28, 2023

11:00 AM to 12:00 PM
Emerald Coast Funeral Home
161 Racetrack Road North West
Fort Walton Beach, FL 32547

Reception Following The Service
January 28, 2023

Emerald Coast Funeral Home
161 Racetrack Road North West
Fort Walton Beach, FL 32547