Mr. James Earl Lancaster, Sr., age 68, of 108 Ashland Avenue, Rocky Mount, departed this life on Wednesday, February 17, 2021.
Funeral, 1 PM, Thursday, February 25, 2021, Hunter-Odom Funeral Services, 121 S. Fairview Road, Rocky Mount. Visitation, 12:30 - 1 PM, prior to the service.
James Earl Lancaster, Sr., “Big James”, was born June 28th, 1952 in Rocky Mount, North Carolina to the late Tommy Lancaster and Inez (Gear) Lancaster. Big James departed this life after complications with Heart Disease and Diabetes on Wednesday, February 17th, 2021 at his home in Rocky Mount.
Growing up in Rocky Mount during the civil rights era, Big James attended segregated public schools until his senior year at Booker T. Washington High school where he excelled in football. Against his will, he was required to enroll in the now integrated Rocky Mount Senior High school. The formerly segregated Rocky Mount Senior High Eagles and the Booker T. Washington Lions combined mascots to form the Rocky Mount Senior High Gryphons as a show of unity. Big James would later be featured in a news article 22 years later highlighting his participation in the first graduating class of an integrated public school in the south.
After high school, Big James married twice while continuing to reside in Rocky Mount, NC where he lived a quiet life as an avid family man. He worked at Merita Bakery for more than 40 years until he retired as a Mid-level Manager and Union Leader. While in retirement, he started a lawn care business to pass the time until his health started to decline late in his life.
Big James loved family and friends’ celebrations. His home was always open for impromptu gatherings for the majority of his life. He was known to have a big heart with an inner spirit to do anything for anyone. He often gave the shirt off of his back to help those in need. Upon entering his home, you were bound to hear “Barry White” songs playing loudly in the background with him singing along word for word while sitting in his favorite recliner. He spent plenty of time watching Wrestling and Cowboy Westerns with close friends Jay Bellamy, Clinton (Jake) Morgan and Charlie (Cee-O) Odom. Entertaining his children and grandchildren were his other favorite pastimes. He loved all of his children and grandchildren, however, the girls held a special place in his heart.
Big James is survived by children, James Earl Lancaster, Jr (La'Vonne) and Kimberly Moody; grandchildren, James Earl Lancaster, III, Joshua Lancaster, Leila Lancaster, Bryson Alston, and Breyia Alston; siblings, Elizabeth Lancaster Wallace, Cheryl Lancaster Alston (Donald), Thomas Lancaster and Jimmy Lancaster; aunts, Mary Ann Carter, and Francis Winstead; an uncle, Herman Gear, Sr.; nieces, nephews other relatives and friends.
He was preceded in death by; his parents, Tommy, and Inez Lancaster; sister, Lois Lancaster Williams (Donald); brother-in-law, Jack Wallace, and a sister-in-law, Almeta Lancaster.
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