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James Michael Desmond

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  Of Bethesda, MD died peacefully at home with his family by his side on March 22, 2022. Born in Malden on June 11, 1934, he was the son of the late Jeremiah and Elizabeth (Whooley) Desmond. Jim is survived by his wife of 53 years, Cecilia Burns Desmond, his children James (Petra) of Poolesville, MD, Timothy “Tod” of Bethesda, MD and Carrie, of Washington, DC, his grandchildren Joshua, Noah and Lily, his sister Eleanor Spencer of Tuxedo Park, NY, and his brother Richard Desmond of Raleigh, NC. He was predeceased by his brother Gerald Desmond of New York, NY. He is also survived by his brothers’ children, Richard Desmond (Susan) of Eugene, Oregon, Robert Desmond (Elizabeth) of NC and Lena Golze Desmond (John Briggs) of New York, NY and a host of other relatives and friends who he loved as family.

Following his graduation from Boston College in 1956, Jim served in the United States Navy. During the Kennedy Administration he began his federal career and arrived in Washington, DC for a 60 day detail. He never left. Instead he found positions and lifelong friends serving at the Civil Service Commission, the Smithsonian Institution, the Department of Commerce and the Department of Energy. Over the decades Administrations changed with elections yet as a civil servant Jim was a proud member of The B Company whose motto is, “We’ll be here when you come and we’ll be here when you go.” Upon his retirement from federal service in 1984, he worked in house for Martin Marietta Corp. and Lockheed Martin Corp. as a lobbyist. After retiring from Lockheed Martin Jim opened James Desmond Consulting to continue lobbying but at a slower pace.
Notwithstanding his federal career, Jim’s energy led him to seek other endeavors in a totally different environment. After Jim’s friend Michael O’Harro established the Junior Officers and Professional Association (JOPA) in 1964, Jim became Michael’s partner in the enterprise. JOPA was a private club that held parties at hotels and bars where junior officers, young professionals and young women could mingle, dance and drink beer. The rules were that members had to be single and 21 to 35 years old. Men paid $3 at the door. Women got in free. A good time was had by all. In fact, Jim and Cecilia met at a JOPA party at the Willard Hotel in 1967.
The success of JOPA led Jim and Mike to open the Gentlemen II in 1967, which is credited with being the first singles bar in the country. In an early example of his lobbying skills, he was instrumental in changing the no standup drinking blue law in DC which contributed to the success of the Gentlemen II and other bars in the city. The partners opened the Beowulf in 1972, Tramps in 1975 (the first disco in DC) and Champions in 1983 (the first sports bar).
Jim’s parents were born in Ireland and he was proud of his Irish ancestry. Following the fine Irish tradition, he was a renowned storyteller and could bring the house down with one glorious story after the other. The stories changed in the retelling but were always finely crafted regardless of the spontaneous edits. His table at gatherings of all sorts was the table having the most fun. He made friends wherever he went and was always there for them in times of need. These innate traits helped him become a well-respected lobbyist with many long-time friends on Capitol Hill including Members of Congress, their staffs, and fellow old-fashioned, shoe leather lobbyists.
Being an avid hunter and fisherman also contributed to his success. He spent countless hours with his many good friends on the Chesapeake Bay and in the fields and on the rivers of Maryland’s St. Mary’s County and its Eastern Shore. But that did not keep him from traveling all over the United States and Canada to find good hunting and fishing (Argentina too). However, no place was dearer to his heart than Southern Maryland, the Land of Pleasant Living where he spent years enjoying the land, admiring the beauty of St. Jerome’s Creek, and having good times with great friends at Courtney’s Restaurant.
In lieu of flowers please consider a donation to Nyumbani Children of God Relief Fund at nyumbani.org or a charity of your choice.

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