James Edward Weidman, Sr. was the elder of two children born to Elizabeth Weidman in Meridian, Mississippi. James was fortunate enough to be one of the earliest African-American high school graduates in Meridian because T.J. Harris, the Negro high school had only recently been established. Upon graduation, James and his sister (Dorothy) moved to Youngstown to join his mother who had already relocated in search of a better opportunity. Shortly, after moving to Youngstown, James enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served in the Twelfth Special Battalion during WWII. He had a variety of responsibilities during his Navy years including serving in the Navy Band.
James returned to his new home in Youngstown where he subsequently led a full life. He was second African-American bus driver hired by Youngstown Public Transit Authority where he worked for nine years. He also worked several years in the area factories. James was a Jack-of-all trades. He studied both carpentry and tailoring but opportunities for apprenticeships were limited. He also attended Youngstown College to study his “first love”: Music.
James was a well-known musician in the Youngstown-Tri-State area where the Jimmy James Organ Combo was in high demand. His music career ranged from big band music to gospel to funk. He mentored young aspiring musicians. He also later in life became was an accomplished choral singer. His baritone voice graced the Third Baptist Senior Choir. He also enthusiastically participated in the annual Tri-State production of the Messiah for several years.
James heard the call of our Lord and was baptized at Third Baptist Church in 1977. He was further called to serve as Deacon in 1986 where he proudly served until relocating to Pearland, Tx to be near his daughter. He was well-known to many members of Third Baptist Church as he safely transported them to various church activities over the years. His community activities have included being elected to the office of democratic precinct committee man and presiding over the neighborhood watch.
In 1951, James married Gertrude Theodora and they were blessed with 53 years of marriage. The marriage produced two children, James Jr (Jimmy, married to Kween) who now resides in New York and Marie Elizabeth (Susie, married to Jewl) who now resides in Pearland, Tx (Houston suburb). His mother and sister have both preceded him in death. He leaves behind several nieces, nephews, and grandchildren to mourn his death.
His beloved wife Gertrude departed her earthly home to be with our Lord in 2004 and has surely prepared a place for him by her side.
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