“I want to stay sharp.”
Athlete, Coach and Educator
When James says in that clear-as-a-bell voice of his, “I’ve been around a long time these eighty years,” this soft-spoken gentleman from Georgia is saying a lot about a lifetime of determination, discipline and accomplishment.
He is long retired now and living in Columbus with most of his life behind him, but it all comes back to him just like it was yesterday: his college degrees, his teaching and school administration experience, his basketball playing and coaching, his anti-poverty and urban development work, and the marketing work he performed for a world-famous soft drink company.
“Okay, let me just tell you a little history about me so you know really who I am,” he begins his story. “I graduated from a university in Alabama with a degree in health and physical education. I got my master’s from a Georgia university in counseling and psychological service, and then earned my doctorate from there.”
“I’ve worked as a physical education teacher and coach, and I worked as a principal and I worked as a school system superintendent here in Muscogee County. I’ve been a school superintendent in Tuskegee, Alabama.” James continues.
“I’ve also worked in marketing for a soft drink company. I worked for the urban development program with the Office of Economic Opportunity in Columbus, so I’ve been around a long time these eighty years.”
James is justly proud of his athletic accomplishments, capped by his induction into the sports hall of fame honoring athletes from Georgia’s Chattahoochee Valley region around Columbus. He played on his university’s basketball team, and after college he had an impressive record coaching basketball at the high school and college levels. The Alabama high school basketball team he coached won the Alabama State Championship. Throughout his coaching career, James helped mold and mentor standout players who would go on to star in the pros.
“My parents always talked about doing the right thing and I had teachers and coaches that always talked about doing the right thing and being disciplined,” he says citing the key guiding principles that drove him to stay focused on making the most of his abilities. “So that’s pretty much what I grew up with. And that has been with me since I was very young.”
After he completed his master’s and doctorate degrees, James’ career in teaching and school administration blossomed. He eventually became a university lecturer, sometimes having to deliver long and highly complex presentations in a classroom setting that was simultaneously being recorded on camera so his lecture could be sent on tape to students in distant settings.
“It’s kind of hard to present a long lecture before a television camera,” he recounts, “and I had to try to do it without having to keep looking down to read it. The thing is I was walking through the class I heard one of my students say, ‘Hey look, he’s not reading his lecture!’ which made me feel good that they saw that I didn’t have to stand in front of them and just read my lecture.
“I’m proud of my memory so that’s why, as I age, I want to stay sharp. I heard on a radio program about how a product called Prevagen would help your memory. So I bought a bottle and I used it.”
Needless to say, James has many more stories to share about this remarkable life of his. And all of his stories roll out of him in the voice of a man who has made the most of the opportunities that came to him along the way.