James Gemmill

Obituary of James W. Gemmill

James (Jim) William Gemmill, 92, of Rochester NY, passed away on December 19, 2022 after a brief illness.

Jim was born on October 18, 1930 to James and Mildred Gemmill in Troy NY. After graduating fromLansingburg High School in 1948, he went on to study woodworking at Alfred State College. 

Upon graduation from Alfred, he briefly taught woodworking at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City before enlisting in the United States Air Force in 1951.   During his four years in the Air Force as a radar repairman, Jim learned many “life lessons” and began several enduring and important friendships. 

After receiving his discharge from the USAF Jim enrolled at Syracuse University and graduated with a degree in Architecture in 1960.  While on summer break from college, Jim met and fell in love with his soon-to-be wife, Esther, and continued to make meaningful friendships with his classmates.  

Jim and Esther were married in 1959 and moved to Rochester shortly thereafter.  After being employed by several architectural firms, Jim established his own professional practice from which he proudly retired in 2003.  

When Jim wasn't working, he could often be found in his basement workshop. Jim explored beauty his entire life through his marriage and family, his friendships, his work, and fondness for the arts.  An avid craftsman, Jim dedicated much of his time to repairs and improvements around the home.  He dreamed big, lived large and sought meaningful connection in all facets of his life.

Jim was a devoted husband, father, and friend. Jim’s life was blessed with endearing friendships discovered through his professional life, the Swiss Club of Rochester, and “the Book Club”.  

Jim loved the rocky Maine coastline and vacationed in New Harbor with family and friends for many years.   He also enjoyed visiting Switzerland, Esther's native country, immersing himself in the old architecture and geography of the various regions to which they traveled. 

Jim is predeceased by his wife, Esther and survived by his children, Susi (Gemmill) Ellis of Arvada, Colorado and Peter (wife, Jamie, and daughter, Lucy) Gemmill of Denver, Colorado, his brother, Bruce Gemmill (wife, Drusilla) of New Bern, North Carolina, three nephews and two nieces.


Jim touched the lives and hearts of many and leaves an example of kindness, generosity, strong resolve, and quiet courage to each of us.

There will be an open house style Celebration of Life between 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. on Saturday March 11th at Bridge Builders Ministries.  Bridge Builders occupies the former Church of the Annunciation at1787 Norton St, Rochester, NY; the design of which was one of Jim’s proudest professional accomplishments.

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