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Richard Thomas James, Jr., M.D.,96



The light of the world is diminished by the passing of Dr. Richard Thomas James, Jr. on August 8, 2016. His kind and gentle spirit will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

Richard, or Dick as known by family and friends, was born at home in Palmerton, Pennsylvania on July 29, 1920. He was the second son of Richard Thomas James, Sr. and Eva Louisa Pettit James; the younger brother of Harrison. Harry died in 1943 in the service of his country. He was an ensign in the United States Navy during World War II.
As a young boy in Palmerton, Dick was inspired by the family physician, Dr. Wertman, to become a doctor. Due to hard times during the Depression, the James family moved to Philadelphia. Always looking for the silver lining, Dr. James said many times that if that had not happened, he never would have been able to obtain a post- secondary education. After graduating from high school in south Philadelphia, Dick received a full scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania. This scholarship was awarded to him by the mayor of Philadelphia, Jack Kelly. Jack Kelly was the father of actress Grace Kelly.
At Penn, Dick was a member of Sigma Nu, waited tables to help with expenses, joined the swimming team, and even though he claimed he could not sing, was part of the University choral group that toured for a year with Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Philharmonic Orchestra. During summers, he worked at a hotel in the Poconos busing tables, carrying bags, and dancing with elderly lady guests at Saturday night dances. Dick graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Pennsylvania with an A.B. degree. He then began medical school, also at Penn, and received his M.D. in 1943. Dr. James finished medical school at the age of 23 under an accelerated program due to World War II. As a result of his high achievement, he was honored with a membership in Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society.
Doctors were in great demand during the war. After graduation, Dr. James immediately went into the army. He served as flight surgeon in the Army Air Corps 19th Troop Carrier Squadron in the Pacific. He achieved the rank of Captain. While based at Hickam Field in Honolulu, Hawaii, he met his future wife, Georgia Serena Graham. As part of the war effort, Georgia worked in Honolulu with the Red Cross as a medical technologist.
After the war, Dr. James completed internships at the University of Pennsylvania, Cornell-New York Hospital, and Belleview Hospital in New York. He held residencies at Emory University Hospital, Grady Hospital, and Lawson V. A. Hospital, all in Atlanta. In the midst of his training, Dick and Georgia were married on June 5, 1948 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Housing and employment were scarce in the post-war years. Dr. and Mrs. James were offered positions at Gorgas Hospital in the Panama Canal Zone. Dr. James was acting Chief of Medicine at Gorgas. They lived there for two years before returning to the United States, making their home in Cleveland, Ohio. After a brief time at Case Western Reserve, the Jameses moved to Charlotte, North Carolina. Charlotte became their home for many years. They raised their three children in Charlotte. Dr. James held staff positions at Presbyterian Hospital serving as Chief of Internal Medicine and Chief of Staff. He also served in similar capacity at Mercy Hospital. He was the co-founder of Travis Medical Clinic which later merged into First Charlotte Physicians.
Dr. James was from a different era of medicine. He routinely made house calls. His Volkswagen beetle was seen all over Charlotte at any time of day or night. He was sometimes compensated with bushels of apples, potatoes, wooden toys, and crafts if his patients could not afford service. Once, he received a truckload of walnut board. He used this wood for years as he honed his sideline of wood-working, making clocks, desks, and chairs. Always very generous and civic minded, Dr. James volunteered his time when he could. He enjoyed serving as the team doctor for Irwin Avenue Junior High School during the segregation years.
Dr. James was a busy internist. He frequently lamented that he never had time to keep current with medical literature. Consequently, upon his retirement, he began a publication titled Practical Pointers for Primary Care. Doctors subscribing to this free of charge service saved hours of time by using the publication to look up the latest information on their specialties. Practical Pointers was originally a paper publication, but became internet based. Always a renaissance man, Dr. James became an expert at using computers and web publishing after the age of 80. As a result of his work, Dr. James corresponded with medical personnel all over the world. Through these contacts, he was invited to make rounds and visit hospitals in many countries. Also during retirement, Dr. and Mrs. James volunteered their medical expertise to the Homeless Shelter Clinic in Charlotte. They received joint National Jefferson Awards for their efforts.
After the death of Georgia in 1996, Dick moved to The Pines in Davidson, North Carolina. There he met his second wife, Lois McConnell McCallum, to whom he was married in 1997. They had many happy years together.
Dr. James was a remarkable, kind, generous, patient, and loving man with a wonderful dry sense of humor. He marveled at the events and history he experienced during his lifetime. The advances in medicine and technology throughout his life were a source of amazement to him. He never lost his thirst for knowledge and his willingness to learn new things. He was part of the “Greatest Generation.” Dr. James always said “I’ve been lucky all my life.” We were all lucky to have known him. To say that he will be missed is an understatement of the greatest order.
Dick is survived by his wife Lois, children Linda, Jan, and Tom, step-children Arch (Caroline) and Rick (Beverly), sons-in-law Scott and Chuck, daughter-in-law Amanda, grandchildren Matthew (Anna), Erin, Jason, Jenna (Jerry), and Alex (Erica), step-grandchildren Andrew, Amanda (Blair), Abbey, Conner, and Sophie, and his name-sake, great-grandchild James.
Services will be at Davidson College Presbyterian Church on August 20 at 10:30 AM. A reception will be held at The Pines at 1:30 PM. Interment will be at Oak City Cemetery in Bainbridge, Georgia, next to his beloved wife Georgia. In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to Hospice of Charlotte, Shelter Health Services of Charlotte, the Presbyterian School of Nursing at Queens University in Charlotte, the Resident Support Fund at The Pines, or to a favorite charity.
Rest well dad. Invictus.
Raymer-Kepner Funeral Home is assisting the family.