The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

Local Scene

December 1, 2012

Octogenarian realizing his life-long dream to pilot a plane


PALESTINE — Coming to Palestine

James retired at age 55 as an internal auditor for the U.S. Army, where his work took him to Oklahoma, Texarkana, Alabama and New Jersey.  

“I was with the Army for 33 1/2 years as a civilian but employed by the Army under civil service,” James explained.

The Oklahoma native retired on Dec. 31, 1987, a little over two months after he turned 55.

After retirement, he and his first wife, Jo, moved to Palestine to be closer to their daughter, who was living here at the time and working at Pleasant Hills Children’s Home near Fairfield. Soon, James took a job as bookkeeper at Pleasant Hills.

James said he and Jo searched for a place to live in Palestine and recalled her excited reaction when she first set eyes on their future home. Within three months, the house was theirs.

“I felt like God gave us this house,” James said.

He and Jo, who were married 56 years, spent their time traveling and enjoying life together until she passed away in 2010.

Finding Love Again

James and Cheryl got married on Feb. 5, 2011 at their church, Westside Assembly of God, where James is the pianist, and her mother was the organist for years.

They only dated a few weeks before getting married.

“James wrote our vows,” Cheryl smiled. “He’s a romantic. He hand makes my birthday cards.”

She firmly believes God brought her and James together.

“We attended the same church,” she said.

Cheryl, 62, worked with children as a social worker. She had lived with her mother until she moved to Dallas.

“The Lord just opened it here for me to stay in Palestine,” she said about her courtship and marriage to James.

The couple’s affection is obvious.

“At our age, we celebrate everything,” Cheryl said. “Every day is special for us.”

James smiled at his wife.

“I don’t think I could ever find a better wife. We’re 100 percent compatible,” he said.

The spry 80-year-old still jogs almost three miles every day except Sunday.

“He’s cut back on his running,” Cheryl said about her husband. “He used to run more than that. He’s in excellent shape and takes no medications.”

Cheryl praised how well their families have blended.

“The 3-year-old grandson adores his grandpa. He plays his guitar while James plays the piano, so they play together,” she said.

James has a daughter, Sharie, who lives in Houston, a son, Tommy, who lives in New Jersey; and a grandson. Cheryl has two daughters, Heather and Amber, two grandsons and two granddaughters.

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