James William Salter Jr., 74, a longtime Half Moon Bay fisherman, crossed the bar peacefully on June 23, 2021, at his home surrounded by his loving family.
Jim was born in Corpus Christi, Texas, into a Navy family on Oct. 2, 1946, to mother Lena and father Lt. Commander James W. Salter. He was the oldest of two sons. Jim graduated from Los Altos High School in California where he met his childhood sweetheart, Jan. He then attended Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo and transferred to S.F. State. There he worked as a mechanic and obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1970. Always a great intellect, standing strong for his beliefs, in 1968 he participated in the first student strike at a college fighting for an ethnic studies program at San Francisco State.
After many camping trips to Half Moon Bay, he and Jan decided to make the tranquil coast their home. His work ethic and desire to take care of his family led him to become a self-taught commercial fisherman for over 48 years. Together Jim and Jan ran Salter Crab Co., a business his children were also actively a part of, bringing live crab and troll-caught king salmon to farmers markets around the Bay Area for over 30 years. He introduced rock crab, a delicious, sweet but smaller crab with egg row, a highly sought-after delicacy to their numerous customers. “Eat rock crab, be strong, live long,” he would always say. Fishing was always his true passion, but due to a genetic kidney disease that required dialysis he needed to pursue a land job at Ace Hardware store where he worked for a number of years. He was so proud of his oldest son, Chad, who took over his role on the FV Westerly while Jim became a fixture at Ace. Loved and respected for his friendly nature and skilled generosity, he was an asset, for sure, to the community at large. He was a remarkable man, never letting his disease define him. Always a beacon of hope, he never gave up. And even after a challenging kidney transplant, he returned to the sea.
Striving to help others, he was active in the local fishing industry. One evening when Jim and his deckhand were coming in for the day from crab fishing, they rescued one man and later two other men with the help of another boat. Jim took the three men suffering from hypothermia into the harbor to receive medical care. Jim said after the rescue, “We saved somebody’s life, that’s always a good feeling.” He also treasured the beauty of the coast and helped bring Quarry Park in El Granada to life for many to enjoy.
Jim and Jan’s love for the outdoors drew them to the Lost Coast in Northern California. A wild and spectacular scenic drive through a steep maze of mountains in Jim’s “one-of-a-kind trucks” took them to California’s least-known wonderlands. A perfect getaway home in Jim’s eyes for him, Jan and family to explore. At the end of a stay in Petrolia he would cross the Honeydew bridge, step out of his truck and soak in the untamed beauty one last time before a long trek home.
He was a rare combination of someone who had a love for life and a firm understanding of what was important: simplicity of living life with those you love. Stick races at Purisima Creek, abalone shell hunting at Pigeon Point Lighthouse, mornings with the world’s greatest French toast maker and good belly laughs that filled a room, will live on in spirit through his family.
Above all, Jim was an amazing husband and an extraordinary father and grandfather. He fought for a lot of years, and he gave us so many more years than we should have ever had, for which we’re truly grateful. His disease advanced, and, with great sadness, liver failure ended his voyage with us all. His kind heart and brave soul will always be remembered. Thank you for being an inspiration and strength for us for so many years! God bless you, we miss you already.
Jim will be lovingly remembered by his wife of 55 years, Jan, and children Mya, Chad, Talia and Todd. He will also forever be remembered by his grandchildren Ava, Collin and Anna, and his only brother, Tim, and nephews Derek and Drew Salter as well as his very best buddy, a mini dachshund named “Cooper.”
Jim’s ashes will be scattered at sea per his wishes and a memorial service will be held at a later time due to COVID. In the meantime, you may go fishing, take a walk at Quarry Park, or donate to Senior Coastsiders in his honor.