James (Jim) Smulian passed away peacefully early in the morning (his favorite time of day) on Wednesday, Oct. 26, at the age of 94 (two weeks shy of 95).
Jim was born on Nov. 7, 1927, in Baltimore, Md., second son of Pearl and Samuel Smulian. He attended public school in Baltimore until the start of the Second World War, when he entered Staunton Military Academy, Staunton, Va.
Jim played the French horn and the xylophone for several years with the Baltimore Symphony Youth Orchestra. He had his own swing band as a teenager and often stated that Lionel Hampton was his idol. He attended the University of Maryland School of Engineering and Johns Hopkins McCoy School of Business from 1945-1949. While in college, he founded the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity chapter at the University of Maryland.
In 1951, he married the love of his life, Betty Forman, of Philadelphia, Penn., and they lived in Baltimore for seven years, where their oldest son, Rob, was born, before moving to Atlanta, where their second son, John, was born. In 1962, Jim and Betty started Trimblehouse Corp., an international lighting fixture manufacturing company.
Trimblehouse was known for its innovative custom interior and exterior lighting designs and Main Street projects bringing historic street lighting back to cities and towns across the country, including, and especially, Atlanta. The company flourished until 1998 when Jim and Betty retired and moved to Dahlonega, Ga.
Jim loved people and was always deeply involved in the community. Jim was a devoted Rotarian since 1961, serving as district governor of the North Georgia District 6910 and president of three Rotary clubs: Buckhead Rotary Club, Peachtree Corners Rotary Club, and the Dahlonega Sunrise Rotary Club.
Jim was also incredibly proud to be the founding president of Atlanta’s Temple Sinai, which started in 1968, and has become one of the largest and most successful Reform Jewish congregations in the country. Jim served on the founding board of Northside Hospital, on the Sandy Springs Planning Council and the American Jewish Committee board, and was active in the Executive Committee, an organization of business CEOs, and in Junior Achievement, the Architectural and Engineering Society, and the Plastic Engineering Society. Jim also served as president of the Atlanta Chamber Players board.
Jim was a loving, fun, and wonderful husband of 71 years to Betty, an amazing father and father-in-law to Rob and Lynne and John and Elaine, and a delightful “Dadu” to Liz, Laura, and Jacob. Happily, Jim was able to meet his first great-grandchild, Elijah, in September. Jim was a natural leader, loved working with his hands and building things, and thoroughly enjoyed engaging with people and connecting people to each other. The world is a better place for his having lived in it, and he will be so very deeply missed.
Donations in Jim’s memory can be made to Temple Sinai (Atlanta), the Dahlonega Sunrise Rotary Club or The Northside Hospital Foundation. Funeral services were held Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022, at 10:00 a.m. at Temple Sinai, followed by a graveside ceremony at Crest Lawn Cemetery. Arrangements by Dressler’s Jewish Funeral Care, 770-451-4999.
- James (Jim) Smulian
- Second World War
- Staunton Military Academy
- French horn
- Baltimore Symphony Youth Orchestra
- Lionel Hampton
- University of Maryland School of Engineering
- Johns Hopkins McCoy School of Business
- Zeta Beta Tau
- Trimblehouse Corp
- North Georgia District 6910
- Buckhead Rotary Club
- Peachtree Corners Rotary Club
- Dahlonega Sunrise Rotary Club
- Temple Sinai
- northside hospital
- Sandy Springs Planning Council
- American Jewish Committee
- Architectural and Engineering Society
- Plastic Engineering Society
- Atlanta Chamber Players
- Crest Lawn Cemetery
- Dressler’s Jewish Funeral Care