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James C. McWillie


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James C. McWillie Obituary
James C. McWillie

Memphis, TN

James C. McWillie, AFSC, 101, father, World War II Veteran, Catholic Diocese of Memphis CFO, passed away on February 11, 2017 at Ave Maria Home. He is survived by his daughters, Judith of Athens GA, Mary Elizabeth (Betty) of Memphis, and sister, Nancy, of Gainesville, FL. He was predeceased by his wife, Elizabeth in 1998, and earlier by his two brothers, Louis and William.

Mr. McWillie, known fondly in Memphis as "Jim", spent his elementary school days at St. Peter Home for Children and later attended Christian Brothers High School, graduating in 1933. He was an employee of General Motors (GMAC) in Memphis and New York until World War II broke out and he volunteered for the Army Air Corps, serving during the Ardennes, Rhineland, and Central Europe Campaigns. Upon returning to Memphis, Jim continued his work in the field of finance at the Murdock Acceptance Corporation.

In 1971 Jim was appointed the first chief lay administrator of the newly formed Diocese of Memphis, a position he held for 17 years. He assisted Bishop Joseph Durick in the formation of the Diocese and served as CFO under Bishops Carroll Dozier, Francis Stafford, and Daniel Buechlein. After his retirement he continued to do committee work and served on the Diocesan Board for ten years with Bishop Terrence Steib. He remained active in retirement serving on the Board of Memphis Light, Gas, and Water, appointed by former Mayor Dick Hackett, where he provided financial leadership, and became a volunteer at the Christian Brothers University Archives and the Beverly and Sam Ross Gallery until 2015.

He is a member of the Memphis Amateur Boxing Hall of Fame and recently received the Kiwanis Club's Outstanding Senior Citizen Award. He was also awarded The National Council of Christians and Jews' Humanitarian of the Year Award, an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Christian Brothers University, the Papal Knighthood of St. Gregory, the Pro Ecclesia Papal Award, and the Papal Knighthood of the Holy Sepulcher. He was an Affiliated Member (AFSC) of the Christian Brothers, and was inducted into the CBHS Hall of Fame. He received the Diocesian Martyrs of Memphis Award, the UNICO Civic Award, and was a Lifetime Member of Diversity Memphis.



Jim was at home with prominent leaders and citizens yet he was also a devoted friend and helper to the ordinary and unnoticed among us. His character and honor is best described in the poem IF by Rudyard Kipling.



If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

Or walk with Kings-nor lose the common touch,

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,

If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,

Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,

And-which is more-you'll be a Man, my son!

"IF", Rudyard Kipling

Visitation will be 5:30-6:30 p.m. Tuesday, February 14 at Canale Funeral Directors, with rosary at 6:30 p.m. Funeral Mass will be 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, February 15 at St. Louis Catholic Church, followed by burial in Memorial Park Cemetery.
Published in The Commercial Appeal on Feb. 14, 2017
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