William Leland James, 82, of Marianna died Tuesday, August 21, 2012 at Flowers Hospital in Dothan, Alabama.
A native of Marianna, he was born February 26, 1930, the eldest child of Hamp and Alma James. He attended Jackson County Schools and began his years in the funeral home business at the age of 15, when he was hired by Maddox-Blackburn Funeral Home.
He joined the U.S. Navy in 1948 and served four years aboard the destroyer escort U.S.S. Daniel A. Joy in the Pacific and the Great Lakes.
He received a degree in Mortuary Science from the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science in Ohio. After working in Maddox- Blackburn Funeral Home for 16 years, he partnered with, James Lipford, Jr., and renamed it James and Lipford Funeral Home. In 1974 they acquired the former Mitchell Funeral Home in Graceville. In 1988, Lelandâ€™s son became a partner with him and the Marianna facility became James and James Funeral Home.
Leland was a charter member of the Shrine in Hadji Temple, Pensacola and the Shaddi Temple. He is a past president of the West Florida Shrine Club. He was a charter member and past president of the Marianna Optimist Club with 42 years perfect attendance; past president and 42 year member of the Past Matrons and Past Patrons Club; past district Director of Florida Funeral Home Directors Association and the National Funeral Directors Association. He was also a member of First Assembly of God Church where he had served on the Board of Trustees.
Leland was preceded in death by his parents, Hamp and the Rev. Alma James; his first wife, Mary (the mother of his children); Joyce Miles James (his second wife); and daughter, Sue James Brock.
Survivors include his wife, Lanet Hatcher Fears James; daughter, Brenda James Gibson and husband, Allan of Marianna; son, Steve James and wife, Terese of Clearwater; daughter, Sadie James Kerr and husband, Rudy of Anchorage AK; son, Colin Miles of Marianna; daughter, Kathy Fears Pitts and husband, Jeff of Lynn Haven; son, Tracy Fears and wife Stacey of Malone; and daughter, Cindy James of Marianna. His grandchildren, Jason Carter, Shannon Carter, Stephanie James Tolin, Andrew James, Barry Harris, Heather Gibson Bethea, Joseph Gibson, Caleb Pitts, Lauren Pitts, Nikki Fears, Lane Fears, Rebecca Gilliam and 4, soon to be 5, great-grandchildren; one sister, Floyce Baxter and husband, Willie Paul of Marianna; and a host of nieces and nephews.
Funeral services were Saturday, August 25, 2012 at First Assembly of God Church in Marianna with Rev. Stephen Potter and Rev. Roland Rabon officiating. Interment followed in Pinecrest Memorial Gardens with James & Sikes Funeral Home Maddox Chapel directing.
The family received friends Friday, August 24, 2012 at First Assembly of God Church, 4186 Lafayette Street, Marianna, FL. 32446.
Those wishing may make contributions to Shriners Transportation Fund, P. O. Box 16115, Panama City, Fl 32406.