Mary L. James was born May 29, 1936 in Belleville, Alabama to the union of Jennieve and David Lindsey (both preceded her in death). She was the forth of six children. In 1939 Mary and her family moved to Chicago, Illinois. Her siblings Johnny, Ella and Ruth preceded her in death.
Mary attended Dunbar High School, where she graduated at the top of her class. A few years after graduating, she began her career as a dancer. Shecreated the stage name Tia and joined the Lester Goodman Dance Troupe and soon became the group’s lead dancer. She continued her dancing career for many years, while also raising two young daughters from her first marriage. The Troupe served as dancers and opening act for such greats as Dinah Washington, Red Foxx, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, and Johnny Mathis just to name a few.
In April 1966, Mary and Gilbert James were joined in holy matrimony, becoming a union of one and in the eyes of the law the loving parents to three children – Morena, Maletia and Tyrone. During their marriage Gilbert introduced Mary to the martial arts. As an eager and dedicated student Mary earned her 1st degree black belt studying and mastering the art of Aikido with the Midwest Yoshinkai Aikido Association.
Shortly after their marriage, Mary began working for the post office in Chicago, but was later able to stay home to raise her children until her oldest graduated from grammar school. She then began a career in the insurance industry as a claims adjuster and worked for several companies
including CNA and Equitable until her retirement in 1983. But, she didn’t stop there. Because of her love of children, she quickly obtained state certification and started a Daycare business in her home that lasted for 10 years.
Mary was an original member of the Dunbar Alumni Association and actively served until recent years. She became a member of Vernon Park Church of God and served on the Usher Board for 28 years.
Mary leaves to cherish the memories of her life: her two daughters: Morena James Bright (Marcel) and Maletia James Richmond; stepson Tyrone James; grandson Marocky James; granddaughters Epiphany Richmond and Tiara Richmond (who preceded her in death); sisters Daisy Laster and Esther Ward (John); 9 great grandchildren and a host of family and friends.
Chicago, IL 60649
Chicago, IL 60617
Chicago, IL 60637