Photo: David and his son Tom at Justice Day on July 26, 2015
David James, a towering figure of civil rights in the northern suburbs, has died at age 92, leaving a legacy of gentle but forceful leadership on issues of justice that will serve as an example for all time.
A Tuskegee Airman during World War II, David was the first black person to buy a home in Winnetka, Illinois. The year was 1967. David, his wife Mary, and their six children moved to a home on Spruce Street. They were initially met with hostility but eventually became beloved neighbors and friends to many, and devoted parishioners of Sacred Heart Church.
David also was a civil rights pioneer in the legal field – the first black person ever hired by the American Bar Association. For decades he put his legal acumen and strong moral compass to the task of making north suburban communities more welcoming and inclusive.
He was an active member of the North Shore Summer Project, which mobilized in the early 1960s to end housing discrimination in the northern suburbs. David and Mary founded TWIG Day Camp in the 1960s, an integrated summer camp held in Winnetka that brings together children from Chicago’s North Shore and South Side. David also was a co-founder and Board President of Open Communities, and supported our work well into the 21st Century. In fact, he was instrumental in helping Open Communities convince the Village of Winnetka to erect a monument to mark the spot where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke on the Village Green, urging people to “live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”
David’s commitment to the Principles of the Welcoming Community was unwavering. His impact on the quality of life in our communities is indelible. We extend our deepest condolences to his family; it is our honor to share with you information about Friday’s upcoming celebration of his life, well lived.
FROM THE JAMES FAMILY
Dear Friends and Family,
Dad’s funeral mass will be held at 12 noon on Friday, July 29th at Sacred Heart Church, 1077 Tower Road, Winnetka, IL. There will be a reception and a light lunch following the mass at the Sacred Heart Parish Hall Rotunda, next to the church.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to TWIG Day Camp in care of Marsha Shane, 1805C Wildberry Drive, Glenview, IL, 60025.
Cards may be sent to:
Family of David James
c/o Tom James
6524 N. Newgard Ave.
Chicago, IL 60626
It will be wonderful to see you there, for those who can make it. And for those who cannot, we know you will keep him in your thoughts.
Lots of love,
The James Family, 1974