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What happened to Jess Walton’s husband? Actress mourns partner of 40 years

Bruno Cooke August 13, 2021
What happened to Jess Walton’s husband? Actress mourns partner of 40 years


American actress Mary Jesse Walton – better known as Jess Walton – shared the sad news yesterday of the passing of her husband of 40 years following a cancer diagnosis. Fans want to know what happened to Jess Walton’s husband?

Who was Jess Walton’s husband?

John W James was founder and president of the Grief Recovery Institute, which he launched in 1977. 

The impetus behind its foundation was his inability to find the resources he needed to help him deal with the grief he was experiencing following the death of his infant son.

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Photo by Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

At its root is the Grief Recovery Method, which James developed over a period of eight months.

During its more than 40-year existence, John James’ creation has expanded into Mexico, England, Sweden, Australia and Hungary. 

What is the institute’s mission?

Its mission is to disseminate information about grief and opportunities for recovery. 

Its members have tried to assist society at large in responding to major national and international events, such as the September 11 attacks and the death of Princess Diana. The institute also trains individuals to help others in their community recover from loss.

Since January 2017, John James’ son Cole has been executive director of the institute.

When did Walton and James marry?

Jess Walton married John James in December 1980 – they were husband and wife for more than 40 years. 

Walton is quoted as saying: “Before (James), I had always gone for Bohemian, rock ‘n’ roll types. John didn’t fit the image; he was straighter.”

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Photo by Vince Bucci/Getty Images

They met through mutual friends in Beverly Hills and married within a year.

“Our first date was to the circus,” Luminary Facts quotes her as saying. 

“And he brought along his five-year-old daughter because if she and I didn’t hit it off, it was over before it began. But, luckily, she and I got along great! Forty years later, he and I have a son and a daughter together and many grandchildren!” 

What happened to Jess Walton’s husband?

According to her Instagram post yesterday, John James was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer three months ago.

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The news follows his relatively recent recovery from surgery to remove a malignant tumour from his neck, in 2018.

Jess, Cole, Allison, her new husband Wade, and members of the hospice cared for John at home during what Jess describes as “the most painful period of my life, and our children’s”.

“In the end,” she writes, “his greatest gift to us and all grievers is the @griefrecoverymethod, the company he founded, and which his son Cole runs to this day. That gift will guide all of us through the daily heartbreak of living without him.”

We send our condolences to family and friends at this difficult time.

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Bruno is a novelist, amateur screenwriter and journalist with interests in digital media, storytelling, film and politics. He’s lived in France, China, Sri Lanka and the Philippines, but returned to the UK for a degree (and because of the pandemic) in 2020. His articles have appeared in Groundviews, Forge Press and The Friday Poem, and most are readable on Medium or