Central Pennsylvania African American History for Everyone
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 A teacher in the primary grades, Hygienic School, 1910.A student in the primary grades, Hygienic School, 1910.



the 20th Century

Obituary:  Rev. Dr.
Vernon R. James


The following document is from the Friends of Midland organization, which regularly posts photographs, information and primary research materials from their archives.  Originally formed to rescue and rehabilitate the historic Midland Cemetery, the Friends of Midland also have an interest in local African American history, including the Hygienic School.  They are very interested in hearing from former students of the Hygienic School, and can be contacted at the following address:
Friends of Midland, P. O. Box 7442, Steelton, Pennsylvania 17113-0442.
Friends of Midland  or view the Homepage

Rev. V. R. James, 86, Clergyman, Teacher

Published in The Patriot, 20 November 1968

The Rev. Dr. Vernon R. James, 86, of 420 Ridge St., Steelton, longtime clergyman and schoolteacher in this area, died Tuesday at a local hospital.

Dr. James retired in 1952 after teaching for 43 years, 41 of them in Steelton. He taught all elementary and high school grades. Dr. James served as interim pastor of Capital Presbyterian Church from 1943 to 1947, during which time he raised $5,200 for a new church building fund. Dr. James has always been active in religious circles.

He came to Steelton from Frederick County, Md., with his family in 1888. After graduation from Steelton High School in 1900, he taught school and did manual labor until 1918 when he entered Lincoln University.

After being graduated from both the college and the seminary, Dr. James did graduation work in education and history at the University of Indiana, and later summer and extension work at other institutions including Columbia University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. James was a member of the Steelton Ministerium Association; president of the Harrisburg Alumni Chapter of Lincoln University; and chaplain of Kappa Omega Chapter of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity.

In 1962 he was named “Omega Man of the Year.” He also was a member of the board of Camp Curtin YMCA.

His survivors include his wife, Mrs. Shellon T. James; a brother, Emory James of Indianapolis, Ind.; three nephews and two nieces.

Services will be held Saturday at 1 p.m. in Monumental AME Church, Steelton, with the Rev. Dr. O. Urcille Ifill and the Rev. Dr. H. Garnett Lee officiating. Burial will be in William Howard Day Cemetery.

Friends may call Friday after 7 p.m. at the funeral home, Front and Franklin streets, Steelton, and at the church Saturday between 9 a.m. and the time of services.

Source: The Patriot (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania), “Deaths and Funerals,” Wednesday, November 20, 1968, page 7. A photograph of Dr. James is included in the obituary.

Memories about Dr. James

In a letter to historian Eric Ledell Smith, Calobe Jackson reveals some fascinating details about Dr. Vernon R. James:

Eric, yes, I did get the obituary of Rev. Vernon James. I remember him well. He came to my father's barbershop. Wilmer Phoenix, one of his former students, was also his barber. I remember how proud he was when I told him that I was going to attend Lincoln. His brother Emory James also attended Lincoln.  Rev. Vernon James and George Lake Imes, both graduates of Steelton H. S., received honorary doctorates from Lincoln. James received his in 1952 and Imes circa 1910.

Calobe Jackson, Jr. to Eric Ledell Smith, copied to George F. Nagle, "Re: Picture," August 31, 2005.

Lincoln University Alumni Listing

The following listing for Dr. Vernon R. James appeared in the 1946 edition of the Alumni Directory of Lincoln University:

JAMES, VERNON RANDOLPH, 1922, 1925; Teacher; Acting Pastor
Born, Frederick County, Maryland, August 15, 1882;  A.B., Lincoln, 1922;  A.M., 1925; Further study, Extension, Lebanon Valley College, 1921-1922, 1929; Graduate School, Indiana University, 1926-1927; Columbia University, Summer of 1910; Extension, University of Pennsylvania, 1914; Wilberforce University, Summer, 1917; Penn State, Summer, 1921; Married, Skellen M. Terrell; Pastor, Presbyterian Church, Raleigh, N.C., 1925-1926; Teacher, Steelton, 1927; Acting Pastor, Presbyterian Church, Harrisburg. 1943-; Omega Psi Phi; Presbyterian.
Home Address: 409 Lebanon Street, Steelton, Pennsylvania.

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This page was updated March 21, 2023.