Willie better known as “Chilly Willie” by his friends was born 88 years ago on August 20, 1932 and died November 12, 2020. He was born at Bell Memorial Hospital now known as the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, KS. His father, Vernie Ross-James, preceded him in death in 1951 and his mother, Rev. Mother Oletha Drayton-Robinson died in 1983. Willie’s only sibling, his beloved older brother, Ozie Banks Sr. died in 1995. He had one grandchild, Brandon Johnson, who also preceded him in death. After his birth he lived his entire life in Kansas City, MO and as a youth he grew up on what was called the “West Side” in the area of 20th and Belleview. Willie attended Kansas City Public Schools ending at R.T. Coles until he decided he had enough formal education. He met the love of his life, a girl who lived on the “East Side” of Kansas City, Delores Frazier.
The two married on November 11, 1950. Their marriage lasted until her death in 1990. After three years of single life, his brother introduced him to Adella Galloway, who he married in 1996 and that union was later dissolved but they remained friends until his death. Willie enlisted in the United States Army and served in the Korean War from 1954-1956.
Throughout his life Willie had several jobs. His favorite job was driving for the KC Metro Bus, serving as one of the first African American drivers in the City. He drove many routes, retiring his favorite route, the Plaza to KCI Airport route. He was known by many and loved to greet passengers as he transported them around town. Upon retirement, he grew bored and needed to be around people so he decided to drive the school bus; he did this for many years. Family was very important to Willie. He was the father of fourteen children, and he loved every one of them and never denied any of them. He was an avid photographer, historian, music lover and traveler. He took pride traveling all over the world and to states to visit his children and grandchildren – including special trips to Japan to visit his grandson and great-granddaughter. In November 2020 Willie became ill and succumbed to that dreadful COVID-19. He leaves to cherish his memory his 14 children Reginald James, Sr. (Karen) Lee’s Summit, MO; Estina James-Prow, Tacoma, WA; Clifton James, Seattle, WA; Evelyn Givens, Kansas City, MO; Jimmie James, Sr. (LaTasha) Seattle,WA; Willie James, Jr. (Loretta) Nacogdoches, TX; Rodney James, Nacogdoches, TX; John James, Sr., Kansas City, MO; Alonzo James, Sr., Woolich, ME; Gaye Weston, Kansas City, MO; Brian Keith Leach (Shelby), Independence, MO; Arlene Arco, Long Beach, CA; Kent Cline, Kansas City, MO; Karen Burgin (Calvin), Tacoma, WA; 33 Grandchildren, 50 Great-grandchildren, and 5 Great-Great Grandchildren. In addition, he leaves the beloved a host of nieces, nephews, others who have adopted him as their dad and friends.
Services for Willie have been entrusted to Lawrence A. Jones. Due to COVID-19 Public reviewal will be held at Watkins Heritage Chapel on Tuesday, November 24, 2020. Visitation will be from 11-12 noon.
Funeral Services will be held at 12pm on Tuesday, November 24th at Watkins Heritage Chapel 4000 Emanuel Cleaver Blvd. KCMO 64130. Visitation 11am. Interment Mount Moriah Cemetery.
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