JAMES M. FAIL

Obituary
  • "Having had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Fail and his wife in..."
    - Eileen Morrissey
  • "Mr. Fail was a true gentleman and was one of the most..."
    - Scott Kirkpatrick
  • "Jim Fail epitomized the graciousness of a southern..."
    - James Donahoo
  • "I've known many businessmen and politicians over a nearly..."
    - Dan Gail
  • "My last conversation with Uncle James was during his great..."
    - Russell Fail

FAIL--James M., was a true southern gentleman who never met a challenge that did not excite him or an adventure that did not inspire him. He was a successful businessman and a generous philanthropist. Most recently, he served as the chairman of Stone Holdings, his Dallas-based financial holding company. A native of Mobile, Alabama, he attended Murphy High School and served three years in the U.S. Navy before graduating from the University of Alabama in 1949. His lifelong respect for education manifested itself in his numerous gifts to both educational facilities and individuals, including his establishing a scholarship at Birmingham Southern College for "any worthy and deserving student." This reiterated his belief that education was the greatest gift he could offer. In 2009, he was honored by the University of the South at Sewanee with a Doctorate of Civil Law honoris causa. James' love for music began at a young age with the violin, viola, and trombone. He played in the Murphy High School band and continued to enjoy performing with the Woody Herman Big Band and the Swingles in the 1940s. Later, he was a generous supporter of the Phoenix Symphony, serving as director, and the Mobile Symphony; making a sizable donation endowing its principal cello chair in memory of his wife. His great enthusiasm for sports lead him to repeatedly give to the Crimson Tide Foundation. His first donation enabled the University to build the department's media suite, named for his father- in-law, Naylor Stone, whom he greatly admired. In 2008, much to his delight and befitting his wonderful sense of humor, the University of Alabama found a way to thank him for his ongoing support by naming the visitor's room at Bryant-Denny Stadium "The Fail Room." He gained a great deal of joy from making the long journey to Pasadena this January to see the Crimson Tide win the National Championship. James' adventurous and always curious nature led him to make many great trips around the world. He took great joy in bringing his family and friends with him to share the experiences of faraway lands and new cultures; stories of these trips always entertained and inspired those around him. Mr. Fail was a member of Kappa Sigma fraternity, the Economic Club of New York and a founder of its Centennial Society, the Metropolitan Club of New York, Phoenix Country Club, the Summit Club, The Inverness Country Club, The Club of Birmingham, and The Noah Society. He attended St. Mary's-on-the-Highlands Episcopal Church. James was preceded in death by his wife, Emily Stone Fail; his son, James Naylor Fail; and his parents, Joe and Rosalie Fail. He is survived by his daughters Kathryn Luttrull and Marcia Boykin, both of Phoenix, Arizona; his grandchildren Lindsay, Hayley, Bobby, Marbury, Liza, Grey, Coulter, and Malcolm; his great-grandchildren Stone, Jonas, and Dahlia; brothers Alton and Charles Fail, and a large extended family. Throughout his successes, James Fail never lost his humility and maintained his generosity to a fault. With his beloved wife Emily, he was a shining example of how to live a rich and joyful life. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the University of Alabama general scholarship fund or St. Mary's-on-the-Highlands.Visitation will be held Wednesday, March 3, 2010 from 6pm until 8pm at Johns-Ridout's Southside. A funeral service will be held on Thursday, March 4, 2010 at 11am at St. Mary's-on-the-Highlands, with burial to follow at Elmwood Cemetery. A celebration of his life will follow at the Veranda Restaurant.

Published in The New York Times on Mar. 2, 2010
bullet U.S. Navy