James (John) Ghicondey, 90, of Springfield, a design engineer and draftsman for military aircraft, died Friday, May 28, of heart failure at Crozer Health Hospice at Fair Acres in Delaware County.
Mr. Ghicondey spent his boyhood in North and West Philadelphia, one of two sons of Albanian immigrants Peter and Anastasia Ghicondey. After graduating from John Bartram High School, he went to work for his uncle as a counterman at Robinson’s Diner in Southwest Philadelphia.
In 1951, during the Korean War, Mr. Ghicondey enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard. After training in New London, Conn., he was deployed to the North Atlantic aboard an icebreaker vessel near Greenland, then to U.S. territory at the Panama Canal and later to Ellis Island in New York.
After two years in the Coast Guard, Mr. Ghicondey returned to Philadelphia and attended what was then called the Spring Garden Institute on the GI Bill to study drafting.
Over a career that spanned decades, he went from drafting to doing design engineering for companies with defense and nuclear project contracts, particularly aircraft.
Mr. Ghicondey took pride in his work and what the projects he worked on would be used for, said his son, Peter Ghicondey.
“He was very patriotic and had a great work ethic,” he said. “It was the love of his country. He felt he was doing his job as a patriot for the sole love of his country’s success.”
His patriotism was sometimes part of his leisure time as well.
“He loved John Philip Sousa and military parade songs, and he attended every military parade there was in Delaware County,” Peter Ghicondey said. “He just respected the Navy and the Marine Corps so much, he felt at home.”
In his spare time, he enjoyed carpentry and tinkering with tools, his son said.
“He was also an excellent archery marksman,” he added. “He learned it in the summertimes up in the Poconos after leaving the Coast Guard.”
In addition to his son, Mr. Ghicondey is survived by his wife of 60 years, Roxane Ghicondey; two granddaughters; and other relatives. His parents and brother died earlier.
A funeral service was held on Saturday, June 5.
Contributions in his memory may be made to St. Chrysostom Albanian Orthodox Church, 237 N. 17th St., Philadelphia, Pa., 19103 or online at http://stjohnsphila.org.