James Thomas Laveroni (1953 - 2018) Jim was born April 26, 1953, the 5th son of Michaela and Edward Laveroni. He was brought up in San Francisco, attending St Stephen’s Grammar School, St. Ignatius High School, and the University of San Francisco.
At age 13, Jim acquired his first drum set, much to the chagrin of his older brothers. He was a self-taught drummer, learning to play by ear and playing along to pre-recorded Big Band Tunes. This favorite style kept his Mom dancing upstairs while Jim kept the beat downstairs.
While in college earning bachelor’s degree in Communication Arts, Jim lent his talent to hosting a radio show on the KUSF station. He also performed with a local band called “Soft Lights and Sweet Music,” which played regularly at the Konocti Harbor Inn in Lake County.
Putting his musical talent and education aside, Jim pursued a law enforcement career, obtaining a position with the City of Novato. On September 6, 1977, he graduated from the Police Academy in Riverside, California. He began a 30-year career as a Patrol Officer. He continued to excel, and rose through the ranks from Corporal to Sergeant, and then Lieutenant. He also held many specialty positions, such as Detective, Crime Prevention Officer, Personnel and Training Sergeant, DARE Officer, Press Release Officer, Firearms Instructor, Defensive Driving Instructor, Field Training Officer and Coordinator, and Hostage Negotiator. Jim’s caring and compassionate nature, along with his keen sense of awareness and ability to easily read people, were assets to his career. As such, he was awarded Police Officer of the Year in 1991 and the Medal of Merit Award in 2006.
In addition to providing public service, Jim had a very creative side. He truly enjoyed being involved in everything. His skill and interest in movies and film making led to his side business of 11- 99 Video Productions, reflecting the call numbers for “Officer Needs Help.” He became known for creating lasting memories for those interested in his craft. This led to many opportunities, which included hosting retirement parties and providing entertainment at City and police functions, including several dance routines with unsuspecting individuals being recruited by his antics. He took these tasks seriously, and would spend hours painstakingly preparing his routine to get things just right. His quick wit and unique talent and passion for entertainment made him stand out in a crowd. He truly brought joy and laughter to many. He was once referred to as the ‘Goodwill Ambassador” of the Novato Police Department.
As early as 1980, Jim was known as Joliet Jake Blues in his frequently requested take-off of the Blues Brothers. This recognition never left him. Also, he would yearly perform his Santa duty, welcoming little ones with the wonder and major of the Christmas season. He never said no to anything.
When Jim’s 30-year career ended, he embraced retirement with the same passion. His interests were abundant. He volunteered his time at Child Support Services, helping to locate those with delinquent child support payments. He also continued his law enforcement interest as an instructor at the local Police Academy. Shortly thereafter, he found his niche in 2 areas: music and radio broadcasting, bringing him back to his college days. His volunteer work with National Public Radio station KRCB led to the creation of his weekly show called “Percussion Discussion,” showcasing drummers, as he believed they moved every genre of music along. He sought out interviews with percussionists, such as Raul Rekow from Santana, Steve Smith from Journey, Doug Clifford for CCR, and Steve Price from Pablo Cruise. These were thrilling moments for Jim, and his interviewing techniques made his guests feel relaxed and welcome.
One night while on the air, Jim stumbled upon a public service announcement for a local jazz club called “Trad Jass.” Next thing he knew, he was attending their monthly meetings where “jammers” met and performed. Soon he was part of the club, advancing to become a Board Member, and shortly thereafter the Club President. This group led to other opportunities, such as attending Jazz Camp to prefect his craft and drumming skills. This was life changing for him, meeting special friends and providing Jim with even more special memories. His musical interest and keen sense of rhythm allowed him to be the drummer and percussionist for 6 bands simultaneously: The Flying Eagles Jazz Band, The New Black Tuesday Jazz Band, The Bechet Fantasy Band, the Wall of Rhythm Percussion Band, Swing and A Miss Swing Band, and an orchestra member for the Kutups Musical Variety and Dance Show. Jim was always willing to perform with any musical group, and was delighted when asked to do so. Music was truly his passion, and a God-given talent. He is now performing on the biggest stage of all.
He shared his life with his wife of 30 years, Carol, and his special love for his cocker spaniel pups: first Mulligan, then Murphy, and most recently his newest addition, Jake. His is also survived by 4 older brothers: Rich, Paul, Bill, and Steve, along with their spouses Ann, Patty, and Patricia. In addition, sisters and brothers-in-law, Diane and Denis and Marilyn and Mark, along with many loving nieces and nephews. Lastly, his 2 best friends for over 40 years, Ken and Mike, who were like his brothers.
Jim was blessed with the love of so many, and will be greatly missed. Although his years were short, they were abundant and filled with passion. We are all a little better because of knowing him.
Family and friends are invited to attend a Celebration of Life Service at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church; 8400 Old Redwood Highway; Windsor on June 24, 2018 at 3:00 p.m.
Donations to Jim’s favorite non-profit organizations can be made to: KRCB Northbay Public Media, 5850 Labath Avenue, Rohnert Park, CA 94928; TRAD JASS, P.O. Box 2861, Santa Rosa, CA 95405; and Marin Humane Society, 171 Bel Marin Keys, Novato, CA 94949.