Obituary: James “Slater” Cahill
February 26, 1945 – February 13, 2022
James Francis Cahill, Jr., known by his moniker, “Slater” was born on February 26, 1945, in Buffalo, New York. He passed away February 13, 2022, peacefully surrounded by his family after a six-month battle with cancer.
Slater is survived by his wife, Eloise Shoong-Cahill, his son, Christopher Cahill, and his daughter Michelle Cahill, as well as extended family members including his nieces, Chloe Cahill Durant and Sarah Fay Stier, and his nephew, David Stier. Other extended family includes over 60 surviving cousins and one aunt, Kathleen Dunphy.
Growing up in East Aurora, New York, Slater was shaped first and foremost by his parents, Frank and Irene “Tommy” Cahill. The Cahills were known to attend church every Sunday, where Slater participated in the church choir. Slater and his two brothers — Johnny and Montana — were close in their younger years and would grow up to become a tight-knit band of brothers in adulthood. In their youth, the trio of brothers were often found at their uncle’s farm, chasing chickens and cows, and helping the family sell produce, eggs, and milk at the local Farmer’s Market.
Slater was an exceptional student at Immaculate Conception Grade School and went on to graduate from public high school in East Aurora, where he played football as left end receiver and was a member of the swim team. His after-school activities included attending the Boy’s Club as well as skiing at local resorts in western New York. After graduating from high school, Slater attended St. Bonaventure University, where he graduated with an English Liberal Arts degree in 1967.
After a short stint working on the railroad in East Aurora, the college graduate made his way out west, hitchhiking his way to Alaska with his brother, Montana, then back to Virginia, before returning to the San Francisco wharf and working as a long shoreman unloading cargo ships.
While passing through North Lake Tahoe, Slater stopped to visit Montana and some friends, but wound up staying indefinitely. Starting off as a door hanger for new construction in the Tahoe City area, Slater quickly joined the carpenter’s union, then began building his own successful construction business, Slater Construction, which he founded in 1979.
That same year, he also met his lifelong partner and wife, Eloise. The two met on the dance floor at the Hearthstone Steakhouse (now Rosie’s) in Tahoe City. They were married on August 2, 1986 and spent 43 years together building an epic love story with their two children in tow against the backdrop of North Lake Tahoe.
Slater is remembered for his public service to the community through his mentorships in wood shop at North Tahoe High School, coaching his children’s soccer teams, and leading the local chapter of the Toastmasters International. He was a dedicated father and member of the Tahoe City tight-knit community, and he will be missed by all who knew him.
As Slater slid into retirement with the same enthusiasm he displayed throughout his life, he was more and more drawn to his family’s lake house on the edge of Bucks Lake, where he spent every weekend in the summer with his wife and kids. With no Wi-Fi or cell phone service – and an ice-cold screwdriver in hand – Bucks Lake became the place Slater and his family could unwind, be present, and truly enjoy one another’s company.
From New York to San Francisco to Lake Tahoe, Slater leaves behind a legacy of unwavering kindness, a devotion to his family, and a zest for life unparalleled by most. He will be greatly missed for many years to come.
A celebration of life will be on Saturday, October 15, at 11:30 am at Jake’s on the Lake in Tahoe City. All are welcome to gather and celebrate Slater’s life and legacy.
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