Charles Ray James was born on July 26, 1935 in Maiden, North Carolina, a then-quaint town nestled between Newton and Hickory. He was the eighth of 9 children born to the late Rev. George Dewey James and Eunice Henry James. Needless to say, it was a bustling, God-fearing household that helped Charles become the amazing father, family man, and friend that he was. He quietly transitioned to heaven on Tuesday, May, 7, 2019 at 7:55am.
Charles was educated in the public schools of Maiden and often shared stories of what it was like growing up in the segregated south. But regardless of what was going on around them, God was the center of family life. He began his Christian walk at Mt. Olive FBH Church in Maiden, and continued to seek after the things of God as he matured as a man.
In search of a better life and greater opportunity, in 1958 Charles move1 to White Plains, New York where he lived with his brother JD and sister-in-law, Mamie. This was a bold step for him as racial and civil unrest was increasingly working its way across the country. Yet his faith in God led Charles to believe that better days lie ahead. He soon landed a job at Grasslands Hospital (today called Westchester Medical Center) in Valhalla, New York and ultimately retired from Union Carbide in 1994. He worked numerous part-time jobs in addition to full-time jobs, doing whatever it took for him to provide for his family. He kept Christ at the center of his life and joined New Zion FBH Church in White Plains, where he served faithfully for over 30 years.
The trek up North brought him something far greater than income. In 1967, he met the love of his life, Barbara Brown, who sacrificed and cared for him throughout his illness. They soon married, settled down in Elmsford, NY and had two sons Raymond and Derrick. Charles also welcomed their other children, Brendalyn and Carey (deceased in 2018). In 2001, Charles and Barbara decided to build a house and relocate to Suffolk, VA. In 2009, they moved to Silver Spring, MD, where he lived out his remaining years surrounded by their children and grandchildren, whom he loved dearly.
Charles, always sharp and meticulous in his appearance, was a quiet and reserved kind of guy who loved and adored his family. He never missed a James & Henry Family Reunion, and is known to lead us in his own creative song brewing deep down in his spirit like "I Was Just Sitting Here Thinking". He lived for our annual family reunions that brought us all together from around the country to celebrate our heritage and our hope.
Charles was pre-deceased by his brothers, David, John Daniel, and sisters, Martha Patterson, Juanita White, and Mildred Jones.
In addition to his loving wife, Barbara, and children, Brendalyn, Raymond (Norine), and Derrick (Denise), Charles is survived by his sisters, Ellen Louvenia Finger and Mary Helen Ramseur; one brother, Willie Frank James (Rebecca); his beloved grandchildren: Justin, D'Shaya, Raeven, Nalani, and Charlese; and in-laws, Mamie Latimer James, Catherine Hood (Donnell), Gloria Moore (John), Joyce Lane, Hazel Gainous, Lorraine Brown, Earl Brown, Eugene Brown, and a host of other nieces, nephews, relatives and friends.
To say we're heartbroken, would be an under statement. But because he believed in Jesus and what He said and did on the cross, we know that Charles Ray James is at home and at peace.
We celebrate a man with a beautiful heart, for that, ultimately, is the true measure of a man.