Michael Joseph James, 71, son of Joseph and Ethel (Platz) James, was born July 16, 1947, in Belleville, Ill. He passed away at his home on June 4, 2019, in Plato, Mo.
He was preceded in death by his parents: Joseph, Ethel and stepfather Earl.
Michael is survived by his wife, Nancy; son, Joseph; daughter, Eva (Kinnaird); two grandsons, Joseph Daniel (JD) and Jesse; a future granddaughter, Joycelyn Michelle; and stepbrothers, Don and Bob who were loved as true brothers.
Michael graduated from Belleville High School in 1965.
From 1969-1973 he was in the United States Air Force, where he played in the band.
On June 15, 1970, he married Nancy Harris in Fairview Heights, Ill.
Michael spent over 50 years of his life as a professional musician, earning a doctor of musical arts degree in 1993.
Music was Michael’s life. He loved to play his piano. He studied to advance his music after high school and college. He obtained a bachelor of science degree in piano performance from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, a master of music education degree, also from SIU-Edwardsville, and a doctor of music in piano pedagogy from the University of South Carolina. He started playing piano at the age of 10 and became a professional musician at the age of 17. He even played the music for his own high school prom.
Michael was a member Roby Baptist Church, where he played piano for the last three years.
Michael retired from the University of South Carolina, where he was instrumental in assisting the department chair in building a world-renowned dance program. As a dance accompanist, he was loved and respected by the students and staff alike. After retirement, he continued to travel from Missouri to South Carolina for the summer dance program. Few men of his age had a Facebook profile with hundreds of beautiful women, but these were his dancers and they all thought the world of him.
He enjoyed gardening, fishing, Facebooking and spending time with his family.
He also loved to narrate his life in the country for his friends on social media. He often mentioned how having cows for neighbors made him calm and put him at ease.
Most importantly, Michael was a Christian. He was strong in his faith and enjoyed reading his Bible and participating in Church activities. It was his hope that all of those he loved and cared for would find their way to Christ.
Services wearee 11 a.m. Tuesday, June 11, 2019, at Roby Baptist Church with Pastor Wes Mayfield and the Rev. Lawrence Chatman officiating. Pallbearers are Joseph James, JD James, Chet Kinnaird, Lawrence Chatman, Bobby Hagler, Jonathan Hagler, Danny Curtis and Joshua Sutton. Honorary pallbearer was LJ Sutton.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home or CT Smith Cemetery.