James Oliver Twist, husband of Emalyn, father to Charlie, Josie and Ben, and youngest child of John Twist and the late Caroline Robinson, died Wednesday, October 23, 2019. He will forever be 27.
Born Tuesday, June 30, 1992, James attended Thornapple Elementary, Central Middle, and graduated from Forest Hills Central, class of 2010. James wrestled at FHC on the J.V. and Varsity teams. He was a Boy Scout achieving Eagle Scout. Upon graduation, he immediately joined the United States Army, completed basic training at Fort Knox, and was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C. He made a dozen jumps. James served one tour in Afghanistan in 2012, where he was deployed in the Kandahar Valley. On his frequent emails and phone calls home, he shared his passion for helping others and talked often about the work he and his fellow soldiers did for nearby villages, including building schools. He truly believed his work offered the Afghan civilians even a little bit of freedom and hope.
James returned from Afghanistan in October and met his wife, Emalyn, through mutual friends. After a whirlwind two weeks, they spent the next several months apart as James finished his Army service. One January evening in 2013, he surprised Emalyn underneath a brilliant light sculpture and asked for her hand. They married in December, 2013, and a year later their first son was born. Missing the camaraderie of the Army, James joined the Army Reserve and served with the 321st Psychological Operations Battalion in Grand Rapids. After four years with Costco, James entered the State Police Training Academy, graduating in July, 2018, Trooper #1615. He had nearly completed his B.A. at Cornerstone University.
Despite James’ infectious energy and ability to light up a room, he secretly suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He sought help, but faced “an invisible war in his head,” as he called it. He struggled to share his experiences yet actively encouraged fellow veterans to reach out to the Veterans Crisis line. On Tuesday, October 22, he took his own life. On Friday, October 25, he saved six lives and gave others life-changing gifts through organ and tissue donations. As a soldier, James saved lives. As a State Trooper, James saved lives. And in death, James continues to save lives.
James will be remembered for his generosity, his charisma, and most especially, for his humor. He loved so many people and was loved by so many people.
James leaves his wife, Emalyn Jade, and three children: Charles Gabriel, 4; Josephine Caroline, 3; and Benjamin Brooks, 1.
James’ surviving family includes his father, John H Twist; sister Mary (Chris) van Opstal; brother J Brooks Twist, and sister Barbara Twist; parents-in-law Jodi and Gabriel Beversluis; sisters-in-law Madison, Grace, and Halle Beversluis; nephews Marius, Kai, and niece Lotte; grandmother Barbara Robinson, uncle John (Betsi) Robinson, aunt Mary (Tom) Robinson, and uncle Peter Robinson; grandmother Joan Robinson; cousins Emily (Rous) Robinson, Sam Simmons, Caroline Robinson, Peter Simmons, and John Michael Robinson; aunts Alison (Glenn) Yarger and Feef (Rick) Dillon; cousins Travis (Tammi) Glenn, Cabe (Katy) Churchill, Keegan Dillon, and Remy Dillon.
The funeral will take place on Friday, November 1st 2019 at 2PM, preceded by a visitation at 12pm and followed by a reception, at Keystone Community Church, 655 Spaulding Avenue SE, Ada, MI 49301.
In lieu of flowers, please contribute to the support of James’ three children and wife through their family discretionary fund care of Keystone Community Church, 655 Spaulding Avenue SE, Ada, MI 49301.
To send flowers to James' family, please visit our floral section.