Music 14

James Richard Getches

September 21, 1957 ~ April 11, 2022 (age 64)

Obituary

James Richard “J.R.” Getches (né Goetcheus) died on April 11, 2022, at his home in Houston, Texas. He was 64 years old. At his bedside were his wife, Christina Stewart; his mother, Martha Anders and his stepfather Ben Anders; his sisters Cyndi Goetcheus Sarfan and Susan L. Goetcheus; and his brother Scott Goetcheus.

J.R. was born in Fort Lewis, Washington on September 21, 1957. The firstborn child of an Army helicopter pilot, he traveled the world, living in Germany, on several Army bases stateside, and in Bangkok, Thailand. In Thailand in the early 70’s, J.R. played cornet in the Young Internationals, where his early love for performing first took root. But J.R.’s life was truly and forever transformed when he discovered Jimi Hendrix. Hendrix inspired J.R. to teach himself to play guitar and the rest, as they say, is history. J.R. spent endless hours during his teenage years with guitar in hand, listening to music, more often than not splayed out on the floor riffing away. From the days of his first garage band, J.R. spent the rest of his life honing his guitar skills. J.R. was a truly gifted and accomplished guitar player whose guitar acumen simply cannot be overstated. Ultimately, he became a highly respected musician, singer and songwriter who shared his talents generously and connected easily with other musicians as a collaborator as well as a mentor and teacher.

At 14, J.R. moved with his family from Bangkok to Newport News, Virginia. J.R. attended Menchville High School, where he excelled academically, played basketball and served as student body president.  He graduated from Menchville in 1975. J.R. maintained relationships with many of his high school friends throughout his life.

After high school, J.R. attended the University of Virginia where he was a member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity. He studied engineering briefly before falling in love with the theater department. During his time at U.VA. he also studied in Paris, where he became (mostly) fluent in French, learned to mime (when it was actually pretty cool do so) and enjoyed earning extra money busking on the Paris streets. Upon his return to Charlottesville, J.R. continued in the theater program and was a founding member of The Motive, a local band with a strong following on campus and in the community. J.R. would go on to play with many bands and other musical groups in and around Charlottesville. J.R. graduated from U.Va. with a theater and French degree and was a proud Wahoo for all of his days.

Shortly after his college graduation and uncertain about what one does with a theater and French degree, J.R. taught himself a variety of computer programming languages.  As with J.R.’s musical skills, J.R.’s computer skills opened many doors for him, ultimately taking him to London, New York City, Los Angeles, Charleston and Colorado Springs for work. Notwithstanding his gainful daytime employment, J.R. continued to pursue his musical life, playing with Native Tongue, Venus for Breakfast and other groups in New York City; with Bette Williams, Flowers and The Cages in Los Angeles; and with Smoking the Ghost, MacDaddy, Satellite Rodeo, the Louie D. Project and others in Charleston.  J.R.’s musical skills took him to stages around the world, from St. Petersburg, Russia, to Las Vegas, Central America and many other locations.

A very talented and creative photographer, J.R. was known for his sweeping landscapes, beautiful nature shots and his unique ability to capture the true soul of his portrait subjects. J.R. was also a talented videographer and director, known to create compelling and moving music videos for his own bands and for other performers. For several years, J.R. was the photographer for the Charleston City Ballet, capturing dramatic images that reflected his lifelong appreciation of dance. His wonderful images were displayed in exhibits in Charleston and Houston. J.R. was also an entrepreneur, screenwriter and web designer.

J.R deeply loved all creatures great and small. He was a rescuer of birds, snakes and turtles, as well as the owner of many exotic pets throughout his lifetime.  On numerous occasions, J.R. stopped his car, risking life and limb, to rescue an imperiled turtle in the road. He had a very special love for guinea pigs. J.R. was also at times an alligator wrangler and rattlesnake catcher. He was a good hearted but fierce competitor who was basically unbeatable at Scrabble and a master at the game of Balderdash. He was a lover of black leather jackets, which he donned even to join his father for a round of golf, perhaps to his father’s dismay. He was a man who not only habitually gave money to the homeless on the streets of the big cities he called home, but who did so with genuine warmth and respect for each soul he encountered. J.R. was exceptionally funny, with a wry quick wit. J.R. never forgot to send birthday greetings to his siblings nor flowers to his mother on her birthday. 

In October 2021, J.R. was diagnosed with infrarenal aortic Angiosarcoma, an extremely rare and aggressive cancer. Following his diagnosis, J.R. and Christina moved to Houston to receive treatment at MD Anderson Cancer Center.  Throughout his difficult cancer treatment, J.R. faced every set back and every challenge with his customary good humor and tenacity.  He was incredibly kind to every person involved in his treatment, whether a doctor, nurse or cafeteria employee, always expressing his gratitude and offering his warm smile to those with whom he interacted, for whatever task was performed. When J.R.’s nurse practitioner told J.R. that he was out of treatment options and had very little time left, J.R. said to her, “May I give you a hug? I know this is very hard for you.”

The cancer that took J.R. from us was cruel and those of us who love him so very much are heartbroken by his loss.  But as we remember J.R., let us also remember that he was a lucky man. He lived on his own terms. He allowed himself the time and space and freedom to pursue his passions with his whole heart and to give generously to his friends and family. In the last part of his life while in Charleston, J.R. met and married Christina. A few years later he purchased and settled into the beautiful home they both loved in Pueblo, Colorado, where they were living at the time of his diagnosis. He was so proud to be a homeowner at last.

After his diagnosis, J.R. was showered with messages of love, admiration and memories from a multitude of amazing and true friends around the world. Many of his closest friends rushed to his side and in his last days, enveloped him in beautiful music and words of love.  So many people from so many places and times in his life came to his aid with their contributions and kindness.  J.R was grateful for the generosity and love he received in his final months and throughout his life. He was amongst the fortunate few who left this world knowing how truly loved he is.  His was a life well-lived.

J.R. is survived by his wife Christina Stewart and her daughter, Camille;  his mother, Martha Bastin Anders, who deserves so much credit and admiration for the beautiful human she raised and gave to the world; his step-father John B. (Ben) Anders and step-mother Genevieve Lane; his siblings Cyndi Goetcheus Sarfan, Susan L. Goetcheus and Scott Goetcheus;  his brother-in-law Richard Marshall; his step-brothers Vance Lane and his wife Suzi, Jay Anders and his wife Susie, Nicholas Anders; and his step-sister Corinne Anders; his nieces Matilda Marshall and Lucy Marshall; and his nephews Harry Marshall, Ryan Sarfan and Austin Sarfan.  J.R. was predeceased by his father, Lt. Col. (ret.) James Richard Goetcheus.

Memorial Services and Celebrations of Life will be held in Charleston in May and in Raleigh in June.

The family suggests that donations in J.R.’s honor be made to any of the following organizations: The World Wildlife Fund (worldwildlife.org), the Red Wolf Coalition (redwolves.com), The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (aspca.org), The Angiosarcoma Project (cureasc.org) or any other organization that helps animals or people in need (local homeless shelters, for example).

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