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37000 W Six Mile Road
Livonia, MI 48152
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James R. McCann


1923 - 2019 Obituary Condolences
James R. McCann Obituary
James R. McCann

Detroit - James was born November 23, 1923. He was a lifelong resident of the Detroit area. Predeceased by his beloved wife, Lillian (1930-2018). He was the last to pass of four brothers. They remained close throughout their lives after their father died when James was 9 years old during the depression era. At the age of 15 James went to the Civilian Conservation Corps in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and sent his $26 income to his widowed mother and brothers in Detroit.

He went back to school at Cass Tech afterward and then to the Army Air Corps in 1942 at the age of 19. He was a hard worker and advanced to Sergeant serving in England, France, and Germany.

Upon return from his service in World War II, James attended Hillsdale College where he met his future wife (Lillian). James graduated with honors at the top of the History department and was accepted to Wayne State University Law School (only law school with a night school) which allowed him to work as a History teacher in the Dearborn Public Schools.

In 1955, after graduating from law school, James and Lillian moved to Livonia with their growing family and he ran for and was elected to Livonia City Council in 1958. He taught school, practiced law and served on council for the next 8 years. While serving on council he fought for an industrialized base, larger residential lots, limited sign use and a host of other improvements which helped to make Livonia's ordinances the model for other communities.

In 1966 he was elected Municipal Judge and served until the state adopted the District Court system in 1968. As a District Court Judge, James was very accomplished. He started the first Volunteer Probation Department in the State of Michigan. After that, he implemented the first Volunteer Work Program in the state of Michigan as an alternative to jail. This model has been widely adopted throughout the state. He served on the Community Commission on Drug Abuse and established the first court sponsored 12 step program in Michigan.

He served as President of the District Judges Association in 1977 and was one of the longest serving District Court members of the Judicial Tenure Commission (1981-1994). He retired that year and his daughter, Hon Kathleen McCann was elected to the seat. In 2010 the James R. McCann Hall of Justice on Five Mile Rd was dedicated in his honor.

James is survived by children: Kathleen McCann (Norm Nickin), Maureen McCann, James C. McCann (Linda McCann), Wade McCann (Gosha McCann). He is also survived by grandchildren: Amy Eiken-Sluyter (Eric), Jodi Prince (Johnny), Amy Micallef (Mark), Katie McCann (Teddy), Rian Kaminski, Chris Nickin (Paula), Meghan Varney (Tom), Trevor McCann (Josie), Tyler McCann (Sarah), and Michael Wade McCann. Also, great-grandchildren: Serena, Riley, Finn, Jagger, Makenzy, Kylee, Kaiden and Haily. He is also survived by sisters-in-law: Suzanne Koontz, and Lula Lehmann (Gene), as well as many beloved nephews, nieces and cousins.

A visitation service will be held Thursday, May 9, 2019 from 2pm to 9pm at Harry J Will Funeral Home, 3700 Six Mile Road, Livonia, MI, 48154. The funeral will be on Friday, May 10, 2019, with visitation at 10:00 am and service at 10:30 am at St. Edith Church, 15089 Newburg Road, Livonia, MI 48154. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Angela Hospice or the of Michigan.



Published in Detroit Free Press & The Detroit News on May 7, 2019
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