Mr. Frank E. James entered this world on November 5th, 1942 in Kansas City, MO to the union of Juneon James and Anna Vann. He was one of seven children. Both Juneon and Anna preceded him in death.
As a child, Frank attended W.W. Yates elementary and lower school. Frank and classmate, Leroy Smith, got involved with Boy Scouts at an early age. At the age of 10 or 11, their Scoutmaster, Mr. E.B. Johnson, took Frank, Leroy, and another young man named Paul Jackson to Boy Scout summer camp at Camp Ernst in the summer of 1954. Chuck Henion, was another scout leader that worked with Frank and his fellow scouters. In 1955, Mr. Henion took Frank to attend Boy Scout summer camp at the H. Roe Bartle reservation in Osceola, MO. This would be the first time in history that a young Black Boy Scout would step foot on the H. Roe Bartle scouting reservation. Frank would go on to be the first Black staff member at the H. Roe Bartle scouting reservation as well. From there, Frank excelled in scouting earning the highest rank of Eagle Scout in 1959. He also excelled in the Tribe of Mic-O-Say earning the paint and beads of a Sagamore. At his pinnacle in Boy Scouts, Frank, along with his sister Mary Ann, earned scouting’s most revered award of Silver Beaver. An award only bestowed upon those who have dedicated the greater portion of their lives to the advancement and development of young men through Boy Scouts.
Frank had an inseparable bond with his siblings. Many know or have heard stories of how he, Larry, Mary Ann, Ernestine, Juneon (Boo), Shirley, and Howard were quite the cohesive unit. The eldest nephew, Fred, would fall right in line as a brother as well. They were all raised in the church and as children they attended church at Barker Temple and Evangelist Temple Church of God In Christ.
Frank was a graduate of Manual High School, class of 1962, and went on to study at Lincoln University. Shortly thereafter, Frank entered the United States Army from 1966 - 1969.
Frank was married to Cheryl Constance Williams on August 27, 1967. He was the father of two children, Noni J. Newberry (Born June 2, 1971) and Frank E. James, Jr. (Born August 19, 1979). Many nieces, nephews, and younger cousins viewed him as a mentor and father figure as well. Cheryl preceded Frank in death.
Once returning from his overseas tour, Frank briefly worked at Kansas City Power & Light. During this time, Frank went on to finish his undergraduate studies at the University of Missouri at Kansas City.
In 1971, Frank embarked upon his new career as a 4-H Youth Specialist with the University of Missouri Extension. During his time working with the Extension program, Frank developed a number of youth outreach programs that served children and adolescents of the inner city communities.
These programs included agricultural education, public speaking, college preparation, arts & crafts, leadership workshops, state and local government workshops, along with many others. There are countless KC youths who can attribute their success in life to one or more of the programs that Frank was instrumental in developing. Frank retired from the University of Missouri in 2008 with over 35 years of service.
Frank was a founding member of the Musketeers Civic Club who banned together in 2001. The club was responsible for community initiatives such as Thanksgiving Baskets for the elderly, and Christmas Baskets & toy drives for young families in need. Frank’s oldest nephew, Fred James, currently serves as President of the Musketeers Civic Club.
Frank departed his life in the late evening on Monday, August 10th, 2020. He transitioned in the comfort of his daughter’s home, surrounded by loved ones. He was preceded in death by siblings Mary Ann Smith and Ernestine Ewing. Frank leaves to cherish his memory, siblings Juneon James, Jr., Shirley Jenkins, Larry James, and Howard James, children Noni J. Newberry (Charles) and Frank E. James, Jr. (Lauren), Mother-in-Law Lillie B. Williams, grandchildren Charles F. Newberry, II, Camdyn Victoria Newberry, Faren Lillie James, and Frank E. James, III. Also, countless nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends will cherish his beloved memory as well.
Service will be held Friday, August 21, 2020 1:30 pm at Watkins Heritage Chapel, visitation 12 noon. Interment in Mt. Olivet Cemetery.
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