We are deeply sorry for your loss - the staff at William D. Elkin Funeral Home
James Carl “Poncho” Villa of Erie Pa, passed away on May 17, 2022. He was 87 years old. He was born October 2, 1934, in North East Pa to Charles and Thelma Villa. He was a 1952 graduate of North East High School. In high school James was a stand out football player. After graduating he took his talents to Youngstown State University. Jim played one season at YSU and then joined the Marines. He was sent to Korea and spent 14 months there. Years later he would claim that while in Korea “his feet were never dry”.
When he returned from Korea he enrolled at Allegheny College (class of 1958) in Meadville Pa, where he continued his education in business and played football. Jim is one of only 2 Gators that have consecutive 200-yard rushing games and still holds records at his alma mater. “Poncho” was inducted into the Allegheny Sports Hall of Fame in 1981 and is also on Allegheny’s 1978 All Century Team. Jim was drafted by the Baltimore Colts in the 11th round in 1957, he ended up playing in Canada for the Ottawa Rough Riders where an injury ended his career. He was inducted into the Metropolitan Erie Chapter Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in 2010 and the North East Athletic Hall of Fame in 2015.
Jim sold Pharma for Pfizer in his early career years until he decided to open VILLA MEDICAL SUPPLY. He owned and ran VMS for 22 years. After selling Villa Medical Supply he had many businesses. He opened a car lot, a gun shop that he ran with dear friends Tony Vacanti and Joe Ott (VOV OUTFITTERS) . He made hand carved signs (if you drive into North East, you can still see his work when entering town). He also opened Hearthside Gallery in North East. He finally “retired” after selling the gallery but continued to do wood work and make signs for friends and family.
Jim never met a club he didn’t want to join! He was a founding member of The Commodore Perry Yacht Club and Bay City Gun Club. He helped start S.O.N.S of Lake Erie and belonged to Ducks Unlimited. He enjoyed skeet shooting at the Erie Skeet Club and belonged to many other clubs in the Erie area.
Jim was an avid sports man, he hunted, fished, snowmobiled, rode 4 wheelers, and loved boating. He loved Lake Erie and being at camp with friends and family and cooking for everyone. He had a great sense of humor and was a fantastic story teller.
James was proceeded in death by his parents Charles and Thelma Villa; his grandson Billy Villa (parents Jamie and Wade Gibby); his brother Chuck Villa (Mary).
He is survived by his wife Donna Villa; and will be dearly missed by his children Sunee Blackhall (Scott); James Villa (Candi); Jamie Gibby (Wade) Patrick Villa (Debbie); Michael Villa (Judy); Jennifer Villa (Brett Podoll); Jeremy Villa (Diane) 2 step daughters Debbie Peterson (Tom) Diane Lyons (Mark) and their mother Carol Goellner Neuburger Villa and will be missed by his sisters Mildred Honey Politz, Georgiana Harrington and Glendy Villa.
Grandchildren Lindsay,Charley,Piper,Bailey and Zack; Sarah and Jimmy and their mother Meg; Kathryn and Spencer; Trevor; Owen, Oliver and Eliza: Michell and 15 great grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.
A little know fact: Jim landed the Pa Air Guard plane, that sits on I-90, sideways in a cross wind…. he told youngest children that and they believed him well into their teens…the tradition continued with some of his grandchildren believing that until their mother final came clean … he didn’t really but Jim was just funny like that.
Friends may call at the William D. Elkin Funeral Home, 65 South Lake Street, North East on Saturday June 18, 2022 from 10:00 A.M. until time of a Celebration of Life Service at noon with Full Military Honors. Officiating the service is Rev. Daniel Laird.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Allegheny College in support of the Allegheny Gator Success Grant program, 520 N Main St, Meadville, PA 16335, or through our website allegheny.edu/giving.