Mr. James marked four decades of service to The Richard Stockton College with a lavish and well-deserved tribute event. From Stockton’s Sports Center friends, family, co-workers, team-mates, and community well-wishers came to celebrate Mr. James’ s great service to the community.
I walked in with Senator-elect Jim Whelan. We entered through a door marked “Special Needs Entrance.” I am not sure what to think of that.
Whelan remarked that it is standard for a track and field record to last four or five years. Mr. James held records in upwards of twenty years.
Lonnie Fulton was Master of Ceremonies. President Herman Saatkamp made some remarks, in part, quoting an Ancient Greek Philosopher, “One’s character is one’s destiny.” He further praised Mr. James for fulfilling that dictum with his life.
Former Stockton President, Dr. Vera King-Ferris, elevated James to Dean of Athletics during her tenure. Mr. James was originally hired as an Assistant Director of Athletics in 1972. King-Ferris said in her remarks, “The ‘G’ in G. Larry James stands for George, but I like to think it stands for GREAT.” Mr. James, unlike men of inferior character, was not defined by his surroundings. Rather, Mr. James defined his surroundings.
She related an experience when she was at the Stockton pool. The college had a program where children from Atlantic City were able to use the pool. Dr. King-Ferris observed a bully dragging weaker children to the deep end of the pool. She yelled at the bully to get out of the pool. He was double her size and girth. He mouthed-off at her and began to raise his hand, as if to strike her. G. Larry James arrived, almost on cue, and dis-spelled the bully. She concluded through affirming that she owes Mr. James both her respect and her life.
Speakers remarked that Mr. James practically coined the term “Scholar-Athlete.” A speaker remarked that his celebration was unique. Most tribute events occur posthumously. Stockton was congratulated for their foresight.
The captain of Mr. James’s Villanova track team related how the team, in a closed vote, decided 17-0 not to participate in New York Athletic Club’s track meet, which maintained discriminatory policies toward blacks. “Grace and human efficiency are captured in the photographs of [Mr. James] running track,” said the Captain. Mr. James was attributed with enabling the Villanova team to achieve synergy, which was defined as “Not your way, or my way, but a better way.” The ‘Nova team gave Mr. James a shirt that had “68” on the front and “The Mighty Burner” on the back.
“Our rent for our time on earth is service,” said Atlanticare’s Director of Health, in a paraphrase of an oft-employed Muhammad Ali quotation. He continued, “Larry, your rent is paid in full.”
The Theodore Young Community Center Dance Troop performed a few routines. Three men and their female director played various percussion instruments to accompany the 12-or-so youth dancers. They did a delightful job of performing dances, influenced by the African tribal experience.
The event was fantastic. It was deemed successful. It was a who’s-who of the Greater Atlantic City Area. Atlantic City’s official sports fan (so delegated by former-Mayor Jim Whelan) Ron Jordan was one of the distinguished guests. We wish G. Larry James the best of the Christmas season.