James J. (Jim) Bramble, 99, a longtime resident of Los Alamos, passed away peacefully Thursday April 25. He was surrounded by family at the Los Alamos home of his grandson James Chrobocinski.
Jim was born February 1, 1920, one of six sons of Lewis R. Bramble and Winifred T. (Kelly) Bramble of Phillips, Wisconsin. Jim grew up in Phillips, Neillsville, and Janesville, Wisconsin, and graduated from Janesville High School. Jim attended Milton College, where he met his future wife, Shirley Ann (Pat) Sveum, whom he married in 1941.
September 1942 marked the birth of son, William, and Jim’s enlistment with the U.S. Army as part of the WWII effort. The Army sent him to the mechanical engineering program at Ohio State University and then on to the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos, where he served with the Special Engineering Detachment (SED) until the war’s end. During the Manhattan Project years he spent evenings in the lab with Enrico Fermi and worked in the implosion explosives group, an effort managed by Walter Koski and George Kistiokovsi. In 1944 Jim was involved in the first serious radiation accident at Los Alamos, which he and three others thankfully survived.
After the war, Jim returned to the Laboratory at Los Alamos as a civilian employee. Wife Pat and son William joined him in 1946, in what was then a closed city. Daughter Jean Ann was born in 1950. Jim worked for most of his career in the Laboratory’s W-Division and served as project engineer for devices that were tested in the South Pacific and Nevada. He is credited with significant work on nuclear weapons design. Jim continued with the Laboratory until his retirement in 1980.
Jim was a star infielder for the Los Alamos Bombers baseball team in the 1940s and 1950s. He was an avid outdoorsman, fisherman, and hunter, and took full advantage of living in Northern New Mexico. He was an avid trap shooter. In 1972 he held the highest handicapped average in NM and was fourth in the nation. He was a key member of the Los Alamos Sportsmans Club and managed the Trap Shooting Division for over 40 years. In 2005, after years of training and mentoring many trap shooters, he was inducted into the NM Trap Shooters’ Hall of Fame. His grandsons followed him in the sport and grandson Randy Foster remains an active nationally ranked trap shooter.
Jim was preceded in death by his loving wife Pat in 2010, his daughter Jean Foster in 2012, and all five of his older brothers. Grandson James Chrobocinski and wife Jackie looked after Jim in his declining years and provided a “grandpa suite” in their Western Area home, where Jim spent his final days. Jim is survived by son, Dr. William Bramble Sr., and wife Barbara of Albuquerque. Surviving grandchildren are Dr. William Bramble, Jr. and wife Sarah of Washington, D.C., Anne Marie Murdock of Olympia, WA, Michelle Fellers and husband Rich, of Oregon City, OR, James Chrobocinski and wife Jackie, Randy Foster and wife Shayna, and Jennifer King and husband Brad all of Los Alamos, and Joe Foster and wife Erica of Aurora, CO. Jim is also survived by 16 great grandchildren, and 7 great, great grandchildren. He was well loved and respected by friends and family alike and will be greatly missed by all.
Jim will be laid to rest in Guaye Pines Cemetery at 1 p.m., Saturday May 4. Friends and family are welcome to attend. A memorial service will be scheduled on Father’s Day weekend in June to allow out of town friends and family to attend. In lieu of flowers the family requests that donations be made to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF.org) in Jim’s name or to another charity of their choice.The family of James J. (Jim) Bramble has entrusted the care of their loved one to the DeVargas Funeral Home & Crematory of the Espanola Valley. 505.747.7477, www.devargasfuneral.com. Additional information about Jim is available at the website.