Services are set for Saturday, Oct. 21, for James Patrick Malley, 67, of West Cape May, N.J., and formerly of North Wales, a special-education teacher and administrator, who died Sept. 13 of cancer at Keystone House Hospice, Wyndmoor.
Although Mr. Malley spent but eight days in hospice, his battle with kidney cancer began in 2006. Five years ago, the cancer metastasized to his spine.
“Jim fought bravely to keep his life, and his family’s life, unchanged despite his disease and pain,” his family said in a tribute.
Mr. Malley’s life was dedicated to work and family. “Jim was the most unselfish person I’ve ever met,” said his wife, Marikay Flanagan Malley.
Born in Germantown, he was the son of Patrick Malley, of County Donegal, Ireland, who came to the United States when he was 22, and Katharine “Katie” Duffy Malley, who sailed for the United States from County Mayo, Ireland, when she was 16.
Mr. Malley grew up at the Highlands Mansion & Gardens in Fort Washington — then the Highlands Estates — where his father was caretaker and the Malleys had a small house. Owner Nicholas Roosevelt, a distant cousin of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s, lived in the mansion. The 44-acre property is now owned by the Highlands Historical Society. “It was a beautiful place to grow up,” Mr. Malley’s wife said.
He graduated from Lansdale Catholic High School, where he ran cross-country. He earned a bachelor of science degree in history from Parsons College in Fairfield, Iowa, and a master’s degree in special education from Slippery Rock University in Butler County, Pa.
Mr. Malley started out as a special-education teacher at the Montgomery County Intermediate Unit in Norristown.
From there, he moved to the teaching staff at North Penn School District, Lansdale, becoming a department chair at the Pennbrook Middle School in North Wales. He was transferred to North Penn High School, where he was special-education supervisor, and he also served as administrator of the North Penn Alternative School.
He had a flair for the dramatic, said Deborah Webb, a North Penn teaching colleague. “He would literally jump from the floor to the table to get the attention of not only the students, but the faculty,” she said. “He didn’t do it often, but when he did, he got our attention.”
Mr. Malley moved to the Wissahickon High School in Ambler as supervisor of special education. At the same time, he was a graduate-level instructor at Gwynedd Mercy University in Gwynedd.
After leaving Wissahickon in 2010, Mr. Malley went to work for the Carbon Lehigh Intermediate Unit in Allentown. Over the next four years, he was a principal of an alternative school and a supervisor of special education.
“Throughout Jim’s career in special education, his entire focus was always on helping his students — to be their advocate in the system, to be their educator, their mentor, and their friend,” his family said. Many students with profound disabilities went on to graduate, and on one occasion, the grateful parents handed Mr. Malley a plaque at their son’s graduation, Marikay Malley said.
A leader of the Council for Exceptional Children, he received the organization’s Honor Award twice during his career.
While at North Penn School District, he received the Superintendent’s Honor Roll Award. “He was so surprised and honored, he was thanking everybody,” Webb said. “They couldn’t get him off the stage.”
In his spare time, Mr. Malley was an active participant in the Multiple Sclerosis 150-Mile Bike Tour, a fund-raising venture, and he earned its five-year alumni award.
The Malleys, who married in 1986 and reared their children in North Wales, vacationed each summer at the Jersey Shore. Three years ago, the couple fulfilled a dream by moving permanently to their home in West Cape May.
Over the last few years, Mr. Malley worked part time as a clerk at the Cape May Peanut Butter Co., which offers such treats as peanut butter-filled cannoli.
“He loved interacting with the people who would come in,” his wife said. “He would tell them where to go in Cape May and what to see there. He was such a friendly, warm person.”
A lover of current events, Mr. Malley read three newspapers a day and clipped articles to show family and friends.
“We will always remember Jim for his kindness, his patience, his positive outlook, his sense of humor, his Irish pride, his outgoing personality, and his handlebar mustache,” his relatives said.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by children Liam, and Grace Schiazza; and a grandson. A brother survives. Another brother died earlier.
A visitation from 9:30 a.m. to 10:50 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 21, will be followed by an 11 a.m. Mass of Christian Burial at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church, 525 Washington St., Cape May. Interment is in St. Mary’s Cemetery, Cape May.
Donations may be made online at www.inmemoryof-memorial.org/jim-malley to benefit the Special Olympics, Montgomery County, or the Keystone House Hospice, Wyndmoor.