Jim McGrail, a well-known vineyard owner, local attorney and board member for the Zone 7 Water Agency, died on Sunday at his home in Livermore after battling a recent illness.
McGrail was a retired Alameda County sheriff's deputy and prosecutor who later opened a private legal practice and in 2008 founded McGrail Vineyards and Winery along with his wife Ginger and daughter Heather. His death came a day before his 64th birthday.
He is survived by his wife of over 42 years, three children and eight grandchildren.
"Jim loved life and lived it to the fullest, in his short 64 years, he accomplished more than those of many more years," the McGrail family wrote in a statement.
"He had a way of connecting with people and he never met a stranger. Anyone and everyone that met him walked away with a new friend. He was extravagant in his love for his family and friends, generous to a fault, and mentored many lives (more than we can count).
"He loved fiercely; his family, his friends, his community, and his country. He was a true patriot and a dedicated civil servant. He was a proud man that believed in hard work and great times. He stood tall, worked hard, played harder, and absolutely loved his grandchildren. We will miss him dearly."
McGrail was elected by Tri-Valley voters to sit on the Zone 7 Board of Directors in 2014, serving in a variety of capacities, including on the administrative committee. He was board vice president at the time of his death.
"We are so thankful Jim's concern for a reliable, high-quality water supply brought him into our organization and his contributions won't be forgotten," the agency said in a statement that described McGrail's death as "unexpected." "Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends."
Added fellow board member Sarah Palmer, "Jim's keen legal mind and forthrightness will be sorely missed. He was no nonsense but always the gentleman and a valuable member of the board."
McGrail's Zone 7 seat was due up for regular election this June, but he decided not to seek re-election.
Services in honor of McGrail will be held next week. A vigil will take place at Callaghan Mortuary in Livermore on Monday at 6 p.m., with his funeral happening Tuesday at St. Charles Borromeo Church in Livermore at 11 a.m., followed by a reception at McGrail Vineyards and Winery.