We are deeply sorry for your loss - the staff at Gaffney Funeral Home
James F. Senko died while working in his garden in Steilacoom, Washington on July 30, 2021. He was 85 years old. A native of Hillsboro, Oregon, he was a beloved father, loving husband, veteran of the Air Force, Boeing engineer and a devoted Catholic.
Jim entered the Air Force in 1959 following his 1958 graduation from the University of Portland with a degree in Industrial Engineering. He was trained as a Navigator, earning his wings later that same year at Connally AFB, and went on to become an instructor at Mather AFB. He married Patricia Lynne Alessio of Walla Walla, Washington on New Year’s Eve of 1960, beginning a love that left all inspired until her death on November 3rd, 2011.
The Air Force sent him to Washington State University, where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering in 1964. He managed a variety of Air Force Computer, Command, Control and Communications programs, including the Automated Digital Network, flight software for the SR-71 Blackbird, and the World Wide Military Command and Control Network. He was assigned to a tour in Vietnam navigating the C-130 Hercules from 1967 to 1968, earning the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters and the Distinguished Flying Cross for valor in combat cargo delivery.
After his service in Vietnam, the Air Force sent Jim and his family to the University of Oregon, where he earned a Master’s of Science degree in 1971. At the conclusion of his Air Force career, Jim was assigned as a navigator in the C-141 Airlifter at McChord AFB. He retired from the Air Force in 1980 as a Lieutenant Colonel.
Jim became a Computer Engineer with Boeing after his career with the Air Force. During his time with Boeing, he worked on numerous commercial and military programs, including instrumentation software for the 757 and 767 airliners, threat analysis for the Peacekeeper missile, avionics software for the B-1 Excalibur and flight control software for the Condor unmanned aircraft.
Upon his retirement from Boeing, Jim pursued his passion for gardening, creating large projects for public enjoyment, including the Meditation Park at St John Bosco Catholic Church, “Jim’s Garden” in Steilacoom Washington, and several native plant restoration projects around the area. It was appropriate, then, that Jim was found on his last day among his beloved fuchsias, his gardening tools at his side.
Jim is survived by his children, Lizabeth Wilhelm of Seabeck, Washington, Margaret Cochran of Walla Walla, Washington, Christopher Senko of Vancouver, Washington Andrew Senko of Tacoma, Washington, and their families, including seven grandchildren.
Memorial Services will be held at St. John Bosco church, followed by a graveside service in Hillsboro, Oregon, where he will be laid to rest alongside his beloved Pat.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in Jim Senko’s name for the upkeep of the Meditation Park at the St John Bosco Church (https://stjbosco.org/stewardship-1).
Meditation Park at the St John Bosco Church
10508 112th St SW, Lakewood WA 98498