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Councilman Floyd A. James: A life well lived

Councilman Floyd A. James passed away Oct. 24, 2015 of an undisclosed illness

Floyd A. James — politician, businessman, activist, family man  — lived a well-meaning servant’s life and had a big heart for his community

COMPTON (MNS) — Floyd A. James, a native son and pillar of the “Hub City,” who served 12 years on the Compton City Council, passed away Oct. 24, 2015, of an undisclosed illness. He was 75.

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Born in Rome, Texas on July 1, 1940, James moved to Compton with his family later that year, where a portion of his formative years upbringing were spent matriculating at Compton schools —  elementary, junior high, and ultimately graduating from Centennial High School in 1958. He excelled in track & field, breaking the California State record in the 120-yard high hurdles in 1958 with a time of 14.1.  He also ran for the L.A. Striders Track Team for many years.

That set the stage for the many triumphs and milestones achieved by James in Compton during a lifetime of work there in business, politics, and social activism. While employed by the State Licensed Contractor’s Board, James found the time and energy to pursue entrepreneurship owning and operating of World of Seafood Fish Market, and Classic Cleaners, both long-standing enterprises in Compton.

James also owned a Los Angeles-based lawn mower shop and followed in the family tradition selling Christmas trees during the Yuletide season. As a contractor, he built and owned several properties in and around the Hub City.

But James was only beginning to establish an indelible imprint in Compton that remains to this day. He entered the political fray in 1977, winning a seat on the Compton City Council representing the Second District, where he served three terms (1977-1989).

Prior to his tenure on the city council, James developed a body of work and a sound reputation for tirelessly working for the betterment of Compton. A litany of accomplishment included serving as president of the Young Adult NAACP (1960-1961);  Commissioner/Board of Directors for the Compton Housing Authority (1971-1977); Member, Citizens’ Demonstration Advisory Board to Model Cities (1970-1972); Chairman of Concerned Citizens of Compton (1972-1973); Member of the Whaley Junior High School Advisory Committee to the Compton Unified School District (1973-1974); Chairman of the Criminal Justice Planning Commission (1974-1975); President of the Compton Lions Club (1975-1977); and Chairman of the Industrial Fund-Raising Committee for the YMCA (1977).

James was a champion for the rights of senior citizens working for and advocating many of the services that seniors currently enjoy in the City of Compton.

Insofar as Compton’s business vitality unfurled, James was instrumental in the revitalization of downtown Compton, and the development of the Compton Renaissance Town Center in 1985, which was comprised of Ralphs Supermarket, Sizzler’s Restaurant, and International House of Pancakes (IHOP), and the Compton Plaza Hotel and Convention Center (previously known as the Compton Lasbin Hotel) in 1986.

James played a measured role in the 1986 development of the Alameda Auto Plaza, which included dealerships Brett Mitchell Chevrolet, John Fontenot Arrow Motors Volvo, and Bobby Butts Alpha Pontiac/Toyota/G.M.C.

Floyd James also served as head of the City’s Crime Task Force on drug Abuse and regularly attended neighborhood block club meetings to address citizen concerns about crime. Council members were not obligated to serve on a full-time basis, but James would easily devote 20-30 hours per week formulating strategies to curtail crime in Compton, working tirelessly with the chief of police, city attorney, and Los Angeles County district attorney. This was above and beyond his regular duties of a councilman and full-time businessman. At the time, James was the youngest member of the council.

During this time, James also worked to help bring much-needed programs and non-profit organizations the city of Compton. He also had plenty of business savvy, not only in his penchant for operating successful business enterprises but in creating business programs to groom new generations of entrepreneurs.  One of Compton’s most successful business training models was a computer training center in the early 1980s. This center helped many young people to learn requisite skills to prepare for and succeed in life.

James helped Compton residents gain access to these programs through his support for Compton’s Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA) which enabled low-income residents to qualify for the job training programs. Many of the graduates from this local training center went on to become successful entrepreneurs that worked and gave back to the City of Compton.

As a councilman, James was also instrumental in sponsoring Community Retreats that helped Compton residents in their quest for gainful employment. Several of these excursions occurred in Idyllwild, Calif., where hundreds of Compton residents participated in job training workshops. The retreats were hugely popular and garnered the support of both elected officials and city employees.

Floyd A. James — politician, businessman, activist, husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather  — served a well-meaning servant’s life, who had a big heart for his community. Funeral services are scheduled for Oct. 30, 2015, from noon to 2 p.m., at Citizens of Zion Missionary Baptist Church, 12930 N. Lime Ave. Compton.

A repast will follow from 2-6 p.m. at the Douglas Dollarhide Community Center, 301 N. Tamarind Ave., in Compton.

More information can be obtained by calling (310) 977-8487.


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