On March 21, 2022, James took his last dying breath in Shelby County, Alabama, less than 200 miles from Greene County, Mississippi, where he took his first breath of life 90 years ago on September 23, 1931.
James was the fourth of six children born to his parents William C Meadows (1904-1990) and Lettie L McClain Meadows (1901-1979), who all predeceased him. Mildred M Matechen (1923-2022); Lou Edith Boutwell (1926-2020); William E (1929-2002); Verna Mae Van Deusen (1933-1964); and Edward L (1938-1939).
James's health rapidly declined after he was informed that his last living sibling, Mildred went to be with her Lord on March 2, 2022.
In 1947, at age 15, James came to Pennsylvania with Mildred, where he met and fell forever in love with his wife of 72 years Norma Jean Feil Meadows (1931-2019). Together they overcame the challenges of life while caring and providing for their eight children. When times were tough, and life seemed to be beating him down, James would always say, "I'll get through it".
April 10, 1952 was a day James often mentioned. It was the day his daughter, Donna was born, and the day he started working at Ingall's Iron Works in Verona, PA, where he was employed for the next 30 years. Within the next couple of years James moved his then small family from Little Italy to Russellton and could afford to purchase his first and only Cadillac.
After living for short times in various places in Curtisville #1, Little Italy, and Russellton #1 and #2, in 1959 James and Norma settled down and purchased Jed's Little Acre, in Frazer Twp where he served as Frazer Twp #1 Fire Chief and Twp Supervisor. Among other township improvements James was influential in getting approval for the Frazer Township Memorial Parklet, to honor all veterans. James enjoyed hobnobbing and took pride in being involved in the long fight to get approval for the construction of the Pittsburgh Mills mall.
Besides his children, James also raised pigs and chickens, and was actively involved in breeding and racing homing pigeons. In 1960 one of his pigeons, flying an average of 31.28 mph against a NE wind, won fourth place of honor in a 322 mile flight from Greenfield, Indiana. His pigeon could have won first place if it had not lingered outside the pigeon coop before going inside to be clocked.
Over the years James went from owning a Cadillac to owning station wagons. Every year he would load his family and drive to Mississippi to visit his family. On Saturday's he would take the whole family to the Sunset Drive In. Somewhere along the line, the station wagons were traded in for a Volkswagen Beetle, which got better gas mileage, but was a little small for a family of 10.
In the 60's James enjoyed talking on his CB radio. He mounted an 8 ½' long CB antenna on the Volkswagen Beetle for his mobile unit and a ground-plane on his house roof. His call sign was KIE-0134. On his calling card were pictures of the entire family which read, "THERE ARE 20 EARS LISTENING FOR YOU TO CALL THE MEADOWS".
In the 60's James also enjoyed collecting both old and new coins and started a coin collection which he added to until 2019, when it mysteriously disappeared. Besides collecting coins James also enjoyed giving "Yankee dimes" to anyone willing to accept them.
During his life-time James was self-taught and was a jack-of-all-trades. From 1978 through 1986, James purchased four rental properties in Tarentum and Brackenridge, which along with his own house, kept him busy maintaining them.
In 1982, when Ingall's closed, James was elected president of the Allegheny Valley Firemen's Association. He opened the "Variety Store" with the help of his long-time best friend James Beacom, Donna and her husband Al Frederick.
After James retired he kept himself occupied designing and constructing useful things out of wood. Some of the smaller items were Lazy Susan's; salt and pepper shakers; upright paper towel holders; a variety of different boot and wood bird houses, with bluebird houses being his favorite; and stamp holders, all of which he took pleasure in gifting to his family.
James and Norma enjoyed listening to music from their extensive music collection. Their favorite artists were Gene Watson and Charlie Pride. One of James favorite songs was "Teach Your Children". In 2007 they endured the unbearable loss of their favorite son Joey (1954-2007). From then on, no more music would be heard in the Meadows house.
Except for the pigeon incident, James was never heard to utter a harsh word or display an angry temper. Together they welcomed anyone who could find time to visit them. Their compassion was without equal and they sacrificed deeply in behalf of family, friends, and anyone in need.
James had but one hope of his children after his death: "It is my desire to have no formal viewing and my body is to be taken immediately to the cemetery for burial at Greenwood."
James loved life and everything that was part of it. His friendly southern charm attracted people who gave him their respect and admiration.
Donna and Albert Frederick will be hosting a dinner to honor James on Friday, April 8, 2022 between 5 and 8 PM at 35 Sycamore Street, Natrona. All friends and relatives of James are invited to attend.
Norma Jean Feil Meadows
1931–2019 (m. 1947)
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