William Hastings James

William Hastings James, the father of Durango residents Terry James, Kirk James and Mary Jo Paxton, died Friday, Jan. 27, 2012, at his home in Fredericksburg, Texas. The cause of death was a rare form of brain cancer. He was 74.

Known as “Bill,” he was born to George and Anna Ruth James on May 27, 1937, in Tyler, Texas. He graduated from Beaumont High School in 1955, and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in music from Lamar University, then a master’s degree in music ministry from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

In 1958, Mr. James married Charlene Kinard in Beaumont, Texas.

Mr. James served as minister of music at several churches in Texas, including in Canton and Texas City. He led the music program at Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas for 33 years. He often led workshops at Southern Baptist assemblies.

Mr. James also organized church members to go to Dominica to rebuild churches and homes after the hurricane of 1979, and led a later group to provide dental services to isolated residents.

He was a pianist, clarinetist, talented tenor and charter member of a men’s choir called The CenturyMen, with whom, he traveled the world for 42 years. He also sang with the Dallas Civic Chorus and the Fredericksburg chamber group Canto.

Mr. James was an avid enthusiast of antique and vintage automobiles and loved driving around the Hill Country of Texas in his 1969 Pontiac convertible. He enjoyed camping with his family and spending time in Colorado.

“Bill’s unwavering integrity, expansive generosity, undying devotion to service and ever-present sense of humor made him truly an inspiration to all who knew him,” his family said.

Mr. James is survived by his wife of more than 53 years, Charlene Kinard James, of Fredericksburg; sons Terry James and musician Kirk James, both of Durango; daughter, Mary Jo Paxton, of Durango; sisters Barbara Jean Fudge of Waxahachie, Texas, and Betty Jo Dobbs of Conroe, Texas; two grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17, 2011, in Dallas.

Memorial gifts may be sent to the Bill James Scholarship Fund, The CenturyMen, c/o Kim Bowen, 1610 Russell Ave., Jefferson City, TN 37750.