Funeral services for Eugene James will be held Monday, May 10, 2021 at 2:00 p.m. at the First Freewill Baptist Church in West Plains, Missouri, with Reverend Ron Blanks, officiating. He died on May 6th at the age of 93 years
Visitation will also be Monday, May 10, 2021 from 1::00 to 2:00 p.m., then service to follow.
Eugene James was born November 25, 1927 at Ravenden Springs, Arkansas, the son of Eual James, Sr. and Cora Bell James and spent the majority of his youth in and around Myrtle, Missouri. A child of the depression, he attended eleven elementary and secondary schools in various states, graduating from Couch, Missouri High School in 1946.
He married Mary Ella England of Billmore, Missouri in 1946. They were married fifty-five wonderful years until her death in 2001. In June, 2002, he married Mary Lou Huddleston Jones, who was also a faithful, loving, and caring wife to him.
Raised in a musical family, music was a major part of his life. As a child, he and his younger brother, Eual, Jr. (Bud) played in various states and locations and won numerous bluegrass and country music contests. He also was a member of groups that played and sang on weekly programs on such radio stations as KMOX in St. Louis, as well as KWPM in West Plains and KALM in Thayer, Missouri. In addition, he was a member of the Arkansas Traveler Theater, and various local gospel quartets, as well as serving as his church choir director for many years. He continued singing and playing his guitar at churches, bluegrass shows and other venues until the last few months of his life.
He was a teacher and school administrator for thirty-three years, earning his certification from Arkansas State University, where he received his Bachelors and Masters degrees, with post graduate work at the University of Missouri in Columbia. He started his career in smaller one room schools, before helping reorganize and consolidate numerous smaller schools into the Glenwood R-8 School district, where he served as the first principal/superintendent. He later served in the same position at the Fairview and Richards School districts before retiring as the Assistant Superintendent in the Willow Springs School System.
Among his many civic activities, he had served as President of the Howell County Red Cross organization, was a member of the West Plains Tourism committee, and the West Plains Chamber of Commerce, as well as numerous other worthy causes.
His church and his religion were of utmost importance to him. He was a Charter Member of the First Freewill Baptist Church in West Plains, serving in various capacities over the years, donating his time and efforts for the Church’s growth and mission. He also served as a member of the Gideon’s Bible Society, speaking in various churches across Southern Missouri, promoting the Gideon’s goals and objectives.
After a short-lived retirement, he founded EJ’S RV Sales, which has grown into a third generation family-owned business, a fact in which he took great pride, as he did in all aspects of his family.
During his retirement years, he was able to travel the country and the world, often spending winters in Texas, and, as a lifelong fisherman, never missing a chance to catch every fish possible in every locale possible, be it a lake, river, ocean, or pond.
He is survived by his wife, Mary Lou James; his children, son, Danny James (Florence), and daughter Alice Massey; grandchildren, Ryan James (Jennifer), Tiffany Young (Kevin), Ben Massey (Ashley), and Alicia Speer, and great grandchildren, Kennedy James, Cash Young, Luke Massey, Ella Grace Speer, Caden Speer, Riley Speer, and Hudson Speer.
Memorial contributions may be made to the First Freewill Baptist Church building fund, and can be left at the funeral home.
Burial will be in Oak Lawn Cemetery, West Plains, Missouri, under the direction of Carter Funeral Home, Inc., West Plains, Missouri.