EASTON — James H. Orcutt of Easton, died peacefully at home on January 22, after an extended illness. Jim was a co-founder of the Christian ministry, My Brother’s Keeper, and long-time program director at the Holy Cross Retreat House in Easton.

Jim was born in Weymouth in 1940, the youngest of eight children to Mary L. (Friery) and James H. Orcutt, Sr. Times were tough for the Orcutt’s and Jim grew up poor, five to a bed and eating ketchup sandwiches. Jim described this as one of the great blessings of his life. It forged strong family bonds that lasted a lifetime and gave him empathy, the ability to look someone in the eyes and say what he felt are the five most powerful words in the English language: “I know how you feel.”

Jim dropped out of Weymouth High School at age 17 and forged his mother’s name on paperwork to join the U.S. Navy. He completed a tour of duty in Japan.

After leaving the Navy, Jim worked for The Enterprise, rose through the ranks, and became a representative for the International Newspaper Guild. 

In 1985, Jim lived a Cursillo Retreat at the Holy Cross Retreat House in Easton. The effect of the program is best described as a “metanoia,” an ancient Greek word meaning “having a change of mind and heart.”

In 1988, Jim and his wife Terry founded My Brother’s Keeper, a nonprofit that delivers furniture, food, and Christmas gifts free of charge to those in need. They began the work simply and humbly in the basement of their home in Taunton with no financial resources. Today, the charity has distribution facilities in Easton and Dartmouth, 12 delivery vehicles, 20 staff, 5,000 volunteers, and has made more than 225,000 deliveries serving nearly a million people in Christ’s name — truly a miracle!

The mission of My Brother’s Keeper, “To bring the love and hope of Jesus Christ to those we serve,” was also Jim’s personal mission. He believed in a God who is an unconditionally loving parent, always ready to help His children without judgment. Jim’s greatest desire in life was to introduce others to the God he loved so much. 

Jim believed that the help My Brother’s Keeper provided families came from God, working through My Brother’s Keeper’s volunteers. In recognition of this, the ministry always offers some reminder of Christ as a gift at each delivery. On furniture deliveries, for example, a crucifix is offered with the message, “We’re just the delivery people … this is the man who sent you the furniture.”

Jim and Terry would come full circle and for more than 20 years, they were integral parts of a four-person administrative team that ran the Holy Cross Retreat House in Easton. In that time, the Retreat House community hosted hundreds of Cursillo, Matt Talbot, and Pre-Cana retreats.

Jim is survived by his wife of 53 years, Terry Orcutt — his rock and greatest blessing — as well as his children and their spouses, Maureen and Kim Staley, Jim and Jane Orcutt, Joe and Mary Orcutt, and his grandchildren, Al, Eben, Nathan, Erin Orcutt, Nick and Erica Staley, and great grandson Lucas Churchill along with several nieces and nephews.

He is also survived by his sister Patricia Peters of Abington, and preceded in death by his parents Mary and James Orcutt Sr., and his siblings Frances Orcutt, Grover “Smokey” Orcutt, Elsie Johnson, Maureen McKenna, Clifford Orcutt, and Charlotte Vernaglia.

Erich Miller, President of My Brother’s Keeper, said, “Jim Orcutt lived an extraordinary life of purpose. Through his work at My Brother’s Keeper, the Holy Cross Retreat House, and others important programs, he positively impacted hundreds of thousands of lives in the greater Brockton area. He was larger than life but one of his greatest gifts was the ability to connect one-on-one with people —  making them feel like they were the most important person in the room. He gave everyone he met a sense of value and worth.”

Donations in memory of Jim’s life can be made to My Brother’s Keeper, PO Box 338, Easton, Mass., 02356 or www.MyBrothersKeeper.org