Territory Mourns Loss of Former Sen. G. Luz A. James

September 17, 2006 – Former Senator and attorney G. Luz A. James died peacefully in his sleep Sunday morning. He was 80.
James' son and namesake, former senator and Lt. Gov. Gerard Luz James II, said that his father was unresponsive when his mother tried to wake him Sunday morning.
"He is normally up by 6 a.m., and when she tried to wake him there was no response," the younger James said.
At the time of his death, the V.I. National Guard was planning a celebration in his honor scheduled for Oct. 14. The James patriarch "was the first V.I. adjutant general of the National Guard as well as the first black adjutant general to hold that position," his son said.
On Sunday morning, a religious program being broadcast on WSTX — the radio station the elder James owned until recently — was dedicated in his honor. The program was repeatedly interrupted with calls from friends far and wide expressing condolences.
James' nephew, Dodson James, said that even though his uncle was "up in age," his death still came as a shock Sunday.
"It was utter devastation because he was the last of the four brothers who made such an impact on the lives of people of the Virgin Islands," Dodson James said Sunday afternoon. "He was a special man. He did more for people than he would for himself."
James' brothers were: Randall "Doc" James, a doctor, four-term senator and horse-racing enthusiast for whom the Randall "Doc" James Racetrack was named; Ulmont, one of the first personnel directors responsible for introducing the merit pay system in the Virgin Islands; and Wilfred, a teacher.
Throughout Sunday, condolences poured in from politicians, family and friends, and all remembered James as a Democratic stalwart and an individual who always put others first.
Delegate Donna Christensen, in a statement released Sunday, affectionately recalled the James patriarch known to many by two names "Luz James."
He was "dedicated to his family and community and served well as a teacher, lawyer, businessman, former senator and as the first adjutant general of the National Guard," Christensen said.
"Ironically, the Guard was just preparing to honor him at the time of his passing. I was looking forward to joining the National Guard and his family as this honor was bestowed. He was a loyal Democrat and always supported the party and the community with his time and resources."
Christensen extended condolences to James survivors including, his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
In addition to his son, the elder James is survived by his wife, Asta, and his other children: Barbara, a businesswoman and attorney; Emmeth, an accountant; and Kelsey James, a doctor.
Lt. Gov. Vargrave Richards remembered the James patriarch fondly on Sunday.
"Luz James was truly a ubiquitous person in the Virgin Islands, especially on St. Croix," Richards said. "He was a great public servant, very active and truly civic minded. He always had the interest of this community at heart."
Richards noted that the positions held by James – former adjutant general of the V.I. National Guard, teacher at Christiansted High School, senator in the 12th Legislature, former owner of WSTX-radio and attorney – was indicative of his commitment to this community.
"He was a person who seemed to have been everywhere and done everything," Richards said. "Our community certainly mourns his passing."
He added that his thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and loved ones, especially his son, the former Lt. Governor Gerard "Luz" James II.
Gov. Charles W. Turnbull remembered James as one who worked tirelessly on behalf of the people of the Virgin Islands.
"The Virgin Islands mourns someone who devoted his life's work to the service and betterment of the V.I. people in many roles and responsibilities…. he fought hard for the things he believed in and for the people of St. Croix and the territory," Turnbull said. "I join a grateful community in mourning his passing and trust that those who mourn will be comforted by the knowledge that their loss is shared by many throughout the territory. May he rest in peace."
Sunday evening James II said that the family was gathered at his parents' home and were "doing as well as we can."
A mortician by profession, James II said funeral arrangements are pending. He said Sunday that while there was a bit of pressure as a mortician to prepare his father for burial, he looked forward to doing the best job.
"You feel more comfortable doing something like that because it's something that will give the family some relief," he said.
James II said that the family was awaiting the return of Emmeth and Kelsey, who live stateside, to make funeral arrangements.
He described his father as a "generous and humble individual – one who would take his last to make sure you got what you wanted. He was more on the giving end than on the receiving end."
His father, he said, started out as a disc jockey at then WIVI Radio-970 on St. Croix.
"His forte was the Casanova – swing music from Brazil," James II recalled. The elder James eventually purchased a radio station in the '70s, which was recently purchased by new owners. James was also the director of Urban Renewal, now Property and Procurement, and helped developed the Water Gut area into what it is today, his son said.
His father didn't attend law school until he was 45 years old — when James II was just starting high school.
"He had been through the political scene, and he felt he could make a difference and help the community in ways other than in politics," James II said.
Still, James never swayed too far from politics. He ran unsuccessfully for a seat back in the Senate a few years back and was a perennial presence at Elections Office headquarters, where he would broadcast election results following primary and general elections. In fact, the elder James was at the headquarters during the Sept. 9 primary, getting vote counts as he was accustomed, even though he was not broadcasting as he'd done for years from a corner perch in the office.
"He will sorely be missed by all," Lt Gov. Richards said, echoing the sentiments of many Virgin Islanders who knew and loved the James patriarch.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Support the VI Source

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall - we want to keep our journalism as open as we can. Our sites are more popular than ever, but advertising revenues are falling - so you can see why we could use your help. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. If everybody who appreciates our reporting efforts were to help fund it for as little as $1, our future would be much more secure. Thanks in advance for your support!