William Thomas James II (Bill) was born on December 30, 1922 in Youngstown, Ohio to C. Gilbert and Doris Renner James. He attended St. Edwards School and graduated from Rayen High School. He attended one year at Kenyon College before joining the Marine Corps in 1942 following the outbreak of WWII. After graduating from Officer’s Training and Bomb Disposal schools, he specialized in bomb disposal along the coast of California.
Bill married Martha Gessner (Marty) on January 22, 1944 at the Marine Corps base in Quantico, Virginia. They shared 67 years of marriage until Marty’s death in 2011.
After Bill’s discharge from the Marines in 1946, he joined the James and Sons Insurance Co., a firm started by his father. He practiced insurance with his brother C. Gilbert (Gib) in the Youngstown area for 70 years. In close partnership with his brother, they established Forge Industries from the remnants of two brewing companies in Youngstown and Akron. They helped create a global supply chain BDI and other successful business enterprises such as Akron Gear and Engineering.
Bill was active in the Youngstown community. He founded the Downtown Board of Trade, a precursor to the Youngstown Chamber of Commerce. Bill served on the board of the Union National Bank (now Chase Bank) and was President of the Mental Health Center of Youngstown. He raised money for the Youngstown Highway Arterial System and Youngstown State University.
Bill is survived by his son Peter (Chris) in Vienna, Va., daughter Molly Oshner in Columbus, Ohio and daughter-in-law Debbie James in Beaver, Pa. Bill’s oldest son and business partner William T. James III (Tom) died in 2016. Bill has six grandchildren who mourn his death, Kelly (Chad) Davie in Columbus, Ohio, Andrew (Becky) James in Boxford, MA, Elizabeth Betsy James in Beaver, PA, Emily O’Connor (Mike) Lewisburg, PA, John (Jessica) Oshner in Columbus, Ohio and William T. James IV in Pittsburgh, PA. He is survived by 10 great-grandchildren. Bill enjoyed close relationship with nephew Carl James and nieces Elizabeth James Berberich (Steve) and Mary James.
A memorial service is planned for Friday May 10 at 2:30 at the Salem Presbyterian Church at 436 E. Second Street in Salem, Ohio with a reception to follow. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Tom James Memorial BDI Engineering Technology Scholarship at the Youngstown State University Foundation, 655 Wick Avenue, Youngstown, Ohio 44502.
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