Obituary of James Roman
August 15, 1991 - October 24,2020
James (Jake) Paul Roman passed away suddenly of a heart attack on October 24, 2020, at the age of 29. Educated at Saint Andrews College (SAC) in Aurora, Wilfrid Laurier University and was enrolled in the Business program at Ryerson. He often spoke of his business aspiration becoming an international land developer/custom home builder. At a very young age he was nicknamed: “Jake Run Things”
James had fond memories of his days at SAC on the football and rugby team, and cherished friendships he made. His commitment to physical exercise was unwavering, and his love for extreme mountain biking took him to British Columbia and Quebec: with plans to travel to Europe to tackle the challenging mountain bike trails.
James enjoyed fine dining and ever honing his culinary skills, would spend considerable time at specialty food shops selecting unique ingredients in preparation for delectable meals at home. His meticulous attention to details extended to choosing fine Italian fabrics for made-to-measure suits (with the keen eye of haberdashery owner Ira Brenton; who became his close confidant). James always dressed immaculately and was continuously striving to be the best he could be in every area of his life.
James had a charismatic light and twinkle in his eye that drew people close to him and his genuine nature kept them near. Those who knew James spoke of his loyalty and generosity to family and friends and his respect for people hurting...always looking out for the underdog. His care extended to his love for orphaned animals in Africa, and, he donated to many charitable animal rescue organizations. James yearned to make a difference in making the world a better place.
James is survived by his mother Claudia Arena-Roman, brother Luke Roman and girlfriend Marianne Bonham, grandmother Maddalena Arena, uncles, aunts, cousins, dear friends and his sweet girlfriend Emily Jagger. He was particularly close to his cousins: Matthew Roman, Tommy and Daniel Mudd.
He was the beloved son of the late Paul Michael Roman and the grandson of the late Angelo Arena, Betty & Stephen B. Roman.
Private Funeral Services will be held at Humphrey Funeral Home in Toronto.
Speeches from the Funeral Service
I’d like to share a story, an experience of my brother, James, from back in Elementary school. He was in grade 1 while I was in grade 2, so perhaps we were 7 and 8 years old respectively. My friends and I were reenacting some sort of fight scene from a movie we had all just watched, slow motion going through the choreography, laughing, playing, really enjoying our recess. My brother must have watched this happening from across the field and completely misinterpreted the scene. He charged over, thinking I was under attack from all sides... I’m not sure if you have ever heard a 7 year old let out a Viking war cry… but before we understood what was even happening, one of my friends is laid out on the grass and my brother is in the process of hammering a second friend. I still remember the look on his face, chubby cheeks and that scowl of his, when he turned to me and asked if i was ok. Seven years old, my big little brother, protecting me.
I’ve spoken to many people over the past few weeks, who knew my brother at various points of his life. Friends and family alike, a surprising number shared stories that followed a similar theme. Of James charging in regardless of the odds, to defend a friend, to act when he needed to act. I wanted to tell that childhood story, because I want to reinforce to you how my brother was always that way. It wasn't an act, nor a trait he was trying to emulate, it was his inherent nature. My brother was born a Warrior. I will always admire him.
In the push and pull of life, it's only human to make mistakes. Particularly when we're young and have not yet recognized the consequence of our choices. My brother was no exception, that stubborn Slovak/Italian blood. Without personal growth, it's very easy to have your greatest strength turn into weakness. I believe he suffered greatly, on his own as a young man. Without that warrior’s spark, and the unconditional love and support of my mother, I’m not sure we ever would have gotten my brother back. He chose daily to fight for a better life for himself, tempered now by his mistakes, and succeeded all these years.
How do you sum up a life into a few short minutes? I wish I could speak for my brother, share in his own words, his experiences of this world. His truths, his loves, dreams, his victories, defeats… whether or not his steak was grain or grass fed.
Unfortunately I can't do that. All I can do, all we can do, is draw on our memories of him and hear his voice in our life when we need to. I will always hear him.
As far as memories go… looking back there is no time before James, for me he might as well have been a physical constant of the universe. We shared everything from the start of our very lives. Our room, our clothes, every meal and activity with our parents, all those little moments. The two of us as infants, trying to figure out the world together. He was my original friend. He also won at every competitive game we ever played together no matter the format, media, or rules.
The past few years, after losing our father Paul, we were back to that point in our brotherhood, recognizing in each other our two contrasting natures, respecting our differences, understanding now that we could play to each other’s strengths, to figure out the world together again.
The void left in our lives is unimaginable. I miss you James, I love you Brother.
Stephen G. Roman
To Claudia, Luke and the rest of the Roman Family,
It is devastating to loose a family member as young and vibrant as James. For your family, having recently also lost husband and father Paul, words cannot describe the grief you must be feeling. The beautiful service you organised was a great tribute to James and I’m sure the room would have been packed were it not for Covid-19 and all the restrictions.
I remember the day James was born and what a feisty young lad he grew up to be. Living on Romandale Farms was fabulous for the kids and my family was also growing up and sharing experiences of playing in the fields and valley and visiting their Baba at the Big House and of course bombing around in the golf cart. As James grew, as with many young men, he had his share of issues but I am happy to say, he overcame those and became a solid individual, full of life, and an entrepreneurial spirit akin to the Roman clan.
I had the pleasure of meeting with James in my King Street office just a couple of weeks before his tragic passing and remarked how well he looked and how pleased I was that he was active and “Ready for Business”! I cannot describe the feeling when Claudia called me on a Friday afternoon and told me that he died. I could not believe it and find it very hard to accept.
James, we will miss you terribly. I was looking forward to being a mentor and watching another Roman enter the business world and carry the legacy forward to the future.
God bless you James and your family. Please say hello to my brother Paul as you are no doubt with him now.
With love from your uncle Stephen and family.
A Tribute to my Friend, Mr. James Roman
It is an honor to speak today about my friend, confidant, and often loyal opposition, James Roman. In whatever role you knew him, from whatever vantage point, he stood apart as someone special!
Although we shared many acquaintances in our circles of friends, I first met James, when he walked into my tailorshop one afternoon to tell me how the pocket, on his new bespoke jacket, should be tailored. In this moment, and which is not often the case with these type of interactions, he was right. As I would learn over the many years getting to know James, this was often the case. He had this uncanny ability to find the smallest details in things, pick it apart, and discover how to improve it.
This first encounter marked the beginning of our longstanding friendship, and professional collaborations.
Over time, his charismatic personality and iron-willed tenacity became readily apparent. The man was a Warrior! It was clear that he would have outstanding success in any professional or personal path that he choose.
We would sit and debate for hours over business, fashion, and life. Losing track of time and often forgetting what the conversation ever started out about. We discussed potential collaborations and how we could work together. He would pour over the plans for his future development business, and we would go over what changes could be made to grow my own company.
We would debate what colours go well with what patterns, and get lost in the weeds over who is saying what on different style forums. James was not just a friend to me, he became someone I could trust completely.
He was like that for a lot of people. He didn’t always open up immediately, but when he did it was incredible. He was often the strongest person in the room, both figuratively and literally. He had this way of, pulling out the passion in you and getting the most of it.
He would also want me to say that he was often, subtly, the most stylish person in the room. Although when I first met him it wasn’t always so subtle. But that was James, he wasn’t afraid to be daring, he just wanted the best in life, for both him and those around him.
We are all going to miss James, and for me, it was a privilege to have been a part of his life. Although much too short, his, was a life well lived! He was a determined, visionary, collaborative, goal-oriented, caring person who loved life and all that it offered. He will be missed by many, but never will he be forgotten by those who were fortunate enough to have known him!
I don't know where to begin with this because there are so many things I could say about this amazing man. I have never met someone as caring, loving, compassionate, hard working and driven as James.
James was the type of person that would go out of his way to make sure the people he cared about were taken care of. Whether that being picking up groceries for his mom specifically from whole foods, buying me a self cleaning tooth brush case as a surprise or simply calling to say he’s thinking of you. He had a heart of gold, in fact a heart to big for this world.
James was a family man and always spoke so highly of his loved ones. We spent so much time talking about how important family is to both of us. We were so excited to bring our families together and make memories as one big group. We always shared stories about growing up with an older sibling and how much that meant to us. James had an amazing bond with his mom, one like no other. He passed on a few lessons from her to me, including always work on yourself, continue to grow and be the best person you can be. I will always cherish those words.
James and I had big plans to tackle the world together as partners in crime, and unfortunately those plans were cut far too soon. We both knew from the moment we met that his was going to be something very special. We would lose track of time because we’d spend hours talking and laughing but nothing else mattered because we had each other. I am beyond thankful for the time I’ve had with him. James has made me a stronger person and I’ll be forever grateful to have been able to care for and love him. Losing you James, is also losing a part of me but you’ll always hold a very special place in my heart.
With love from your “sweet pea” Emily.
Letter for James
We are sadly here today to celebrate the life of my cousin James, and to say goodbye to a young man who left us far too soon.
As I am from Vancouver, although I now live in Houston Texas, I remember going to Ontario and the farm when my brother Mark and I were young. Together with Luke and James, we would play in the fields together and watch movies with James and Luke in Paul and Claudia’s house. One movie in particular was “the Land Before Time”, a cartoon about Dinosaurs. Not sure why this particular movie sticks out in my brain, but it does, and from this point forward, that movie will always be a special memory for me.
While James and I were the furthest apart in age, as he was 8 years younger than me, getting the chance to play with your cousins provided so many great childhood memories that I will never forget.
Once we grew up and became adults, unfortunately our trips back to Ontario happened less due to the responsibilities of school and now work. In hindsight, I wish I had taken more time to spend with my family in Ontario. Hopefully, that will happen more now that all the cousins are a little older and have become more settled in our lives.
However, I am very glad that over the last couple of years, James and I became so much closer. I believe a big influence in our growing closer was our shared love of fitness and health. Our phone calls about working out expanded into robust talks about family, politics, dating and every other subject that you might discuss with a close friend. The only other person that I can have a long phone conversation with is my brother Mark. That being said, it was fabulous to have a cousin that I could talk to like my brother. Over the last couple years, our phone calls could turn into hour long plus conversations, and I already miss these.
James was an inspiring person in the way that he had turned his life around was so extremely impressive. I believe he had great things ahead of him in life, which makes his leaving us so early that much harder. I hope that he is hanging out with Uncle Paul now. I miss him already, but he will never be forgotten.
I love you cousin/brother!