The funeral of Lieutenant General Daniel James III, USAF, son of the late General Daniel “Chappie” James, USAF, a Pensacola native, was held at Shiloh Baptist Church of Washington, DC, on Wednesday, August 23, 2017. First-person accounts about Lt.Gen. James’ life and legacy were poignantly celebrated with tributes from General Joseph Lengyel, chief, National Guard Bureau, Captain Frank Weldon Berry III, a nephew and commercial pilot; Lieutenant Colonel Reggie Bullock (Ret.) and Major General Dextor Tutor, USAF (Ret.). They all directed endearing and supportive comments to Lt. Gen. James’ widow Mrs. Dana James and son Daniel Steven James.
Stirring renditions of “On Eagles Wings” and “His Eye Is On the Sparrow” were offered by representatives of the Shiloh Senior Choir and Denize’ M. Shy, respectively.
A deeply personal and uplifting eulogy by The Honorable Robert R. Rigsby, Judge, District of Columbia Superior Court, was touching as he described how both men related to each other, how their families were intertwined, and how Lt.Gen. James was quite the mentor and tutor of all who crossed his path, including a select group known as the “James Gang.” Judge Rigsby very sensitively described his response after learning of Lt. Gen. James’ death from Mrs. James, and how he and fellow members of the James Gang met Mrs. James and Daniel Steven at the general’s bedside immediately after his death.
While he is well known as the son of the late General “Chappie” James, the first African-American four-star general of any U.S. military service, the general cut his own path and created his own legacy as a combat pilot and a commercial pilot, and he was the first African-American to serve as Adjutant General of the Texas Air National Guard and as Director of the Air National Guard. Both of these selections were made by George W. Bush when he was Governor of Texas and later as President.
His grandmother, the late Lillie A. James, started the first private school for African-American children in Pensacola in her home more than 90 years ago. According to the general’s obituary, his grandmother said, “When the train of opportunity pulls into the station, you can’t tell the conductor to wait. You have to prepare yourself for opportunities afforded to you.” These words helped prepare her grandson “to become known as a pilot among pilots and man of tremendous valor.”
Lt.Gen. James is survived by his loving wife Dana and son Daniel Steven; his mother-in-law Genie Da Cruz; his brother Claude James; his brother-in-law Dr. Frank Berry Jr.; his nieces Jamie Michelle Berry, Brittany James-Vita and her daughter Avalon; his nephews Captain Frank W. Berry III, Ryan James, Max Berry and his wife patty. He is also survived by a host of loving and devoted friends, family members and caretakers.
Rev. Dr. Wallace Charles Smith, senior minister, Shiloh Baptist Church of Washington, was the funeral’s officiant.”