James K. Gifford Chelmsford resident, bus driver, drum corps founder


James K. Gifford, a resident of North Chelmsford for most of his life, passed away on January 13, 2019 at Sutton Hill Center in North Andover, MA.  Jim was born in Nashua, NH on June 29, 1940, the son of the late Kenneth Gifford and Georgianna (Wilcox) Gifford.  He graduated with the Chelmsford High School Class of 1960.

Jim took great pride in having driven bus for Chelmsford Public Schools and Chelmsford High School sports teams for about forty years.  Jim began driving for Marinel Transportation, remembered by Chelmsford old-timers, in 1964.  He continued to drive for Marinel and for the successor companies that held the Chelmsford Public Schools contract into the early 2000’s.  Jim loved to talk about the kids that he drove, and then in turning driving their children as the years passed.  Jim loved driving for and rooting for the various Chelmsford Lions sports teams.  He drove Chelmsford’s baseball team for 30 years, football for 35 years, and basketball for 38 years.  He loved it, loved to talk about it, and loved to photograph the teams, mount the pictures in his bus, and give them to the players.

Jim was involved for many years with the Chelmsford Town Celebrations committee, helping with the July 4 parade and especially with the contracting of musical units.  Jim was also active helping with the celebrations and parade for Chelmsford’s 350th anniversary in 2005.

Jim was a member of the Central Congregational Church in Chelmsford for many years.  He was a member of the Chelmsford High School Alumni Association and was part of the organizing committee for recent reunions of the CHS Class of 1960.

In 1972, Jim founded the Golden Buccaneers Drum & Bugle Corps of Chelmsford, later known as the Buccaneers of Merrimack Valley.  Jim was the manager of the organization through 1977, during which time the Buccaneers won a number of championships.  The Buccaneers continued to be active as an organization through 1997, and so Jim was the founder of and instrumental in an organization that helped hundreds of area young people over 25 years.

Jim will be remembered as a man who loved America, loved our service people and first responders, and loved the Town of Chelmsford.  Jim never married or had children and is survived by his brother Robert Gifford of North Chelmsford; his cousin William Thomas McDonald and his wife Flor Thomas of Dracut; and other cousins who will remember him fondly.

Visiting hours Fri. 3 to 7 P.M. Funeral Sat. at 9:30 from the DOLAN FUNERAL HOME, 106 MIDDLESEX ST. CHELMSFORD, with a funeral service at 10:30am at Central Congregational Church, 1 Worthen St., Chelmsford. Burial in Fairview Cemetery, Chelmsford.  ARRANGEMENTS BY DOLAN FUNERAL HOME 978-256-4040



January 18, 2019
3 PM - 7 PM
Dolan Funeral Home


January 19, 2019
9:30 Funeral Home/ 10:30 Church
Dolan Funeral Home
  1. Gert Allaby says:

    Jim you’ll be missed by many. Many good times, good laughs. RIP

  2. Sylvia Boyle says:

    What a nice tribute. He did know all our names , and appeared to know when we needed an extra kindness.

  3. John Carver says:

    It took me quite a few years in my professional career to learn how what we perceive as meaningless human interactions can have a profound effect on other people. I think Jim had figured this out early on. I road on Jim’s bus to away basketball games in the early 70’s and the players clearly accepted him as part of the team, just as much as the coaches, trainers, or cheerleaders. He always looked professional, wearing his blue uniform jacket, typically sitting in the first row of the sidelines during the games. He did not cheer loudly, but he was another person the team wanted to play well, knowing he cared. I was not a great player but he knew my name and he always greeted me as he did the others when we boarded the bus for the ride home. “Good game”, or more commonly “Tough night, John we’ll get them next time.” In those days there were just two buses that drove kids home evenings after winter practices and I took Jim’s bus. Though I lived only a couple miles from the high school, it would take nearly 45 minutes to reach my stop due to the circuitous route taken to drop off other players. The bus was always dark and cold and nearly empty by the time I got off, but less lonely because Jim was driving. He always said, Good night, John.”
    Reading his obituary in the paper I was so happy, but not necessarily surprised, to learn he continued to drive students, players, and teams for many, many years after me. What a wonderful lifetime of human interaction!

Write a Condolence

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *