James Willoughby, Sr., was born September 30, 1932 in England, Arkansas to Gold, Sr. and Bessie Willoughby. He was the third eldest of 11 children born to Gold and Bessie.
James left Arkansas at the age of 19 and moved to Kansas City, MO. He was first employed with The Poultry House where he worked as a butcher. It was there that he met Alicetean Johnson. They married and became a family in 1958, along with Alice’s daughter, Nadine. Four more children were born to this union: James, Jr., Robin, Frederick and Yvetta. He and Alice also raised grandson, Dwayne. He eventually went to work for Carl Otten & Sons Poultry and Eggs as a delivery driver until his retirement. Although, he retired from his employer, he kept busy updating and maintaining their real estate investments. And he also started his own lawn care business.
Over the years, James got lots of enjoyment and relaxation from watching his favorite sports including boxing, wrestling, baseball and football. He also simply enjoyed sitting on the porch “shooting the breeze” with his family and friends.
James gave his heart to the Lord Jesus Christ and received the Holy Spirit as a young man at the Eastside Church of God in Christ (a.k.a. Griddine Temple) under founding Pastor, whom he lovingly referred to as Elder Griddine. He had a special fondness for Elder Griddine because he taught him the importance of ministry and service outside of the four walls of the church. This is where his steadfast, persistent ministry of helps began. There he served as a deacon, Sunday School teacher, maintenance man and personal assistant to Elder Griddine due to his declining health in his latter years.
After many years at Griddine Temple, they felt impressed to move their membership to Grace Assembly of God Church under the leadership of Pastor Sidney Ramphal. There, James served as Sunday School teacher, in the bus ministry and on the Missions and Finance committees.
In 1985, James and Alice joined the ministry of Glad Tidings Assembly of God Church under the leadership of Pastor Vincent Fraser, where they stayed planted until they transitioned from this life. For over 35 years, James faithfully supported this ministry with his time, talents and finances. He served as a preacher of the gospel and as a partner with Pastor Fraser and Deacon Robert Thomas in jail ministry for several years. He also served as a deacon on their official Board of Trustees, on the missions committee and was responsible for the lawn care of the church property until his decline in health prevented him from continuing. Pastor Fraser said of James: “He has made an indelible mark here at Glad Tidings as one of the godliest and most faithful members of our congregation. We will always remember him.”
Since his early years as a Christian, James got the most joy out of soulwinning. He took the command of Jesus in Mark 16:15 quite literally: “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” He wasn’t ashamed to share Christ or testify to family and friends (or enemies), coworkers or anybody else he met along the way.
James was preceded in death by his parents, Gold, Sr. and Bessie Willoughby; wife, Alicetean Willoughby; daughter, Nadine Matthews; brothers: Ernest Willoughby, Sr., Jordon (J.W.) Willoughby, Gold Willoughby, Jr., Eddie Lee Willoughby, John Arthur Willoughby, Donald Willoughby and Ronald Willoughby; sisters: Elizabeth Richards, Evelyn Samuels, Annie Jean Dunn, Dorothy Mae Miller and Gertie Bess Jackson.
He is survived by his children, James Willoughby, Jr. (Harriet) of Kansas City, MO; Robin Willoughby, of Raytown, MO; Frederick Willoughby of Kansas City, MO; and Yvetta Sargent (Byron) of Blue Springs, MO; grandson, Dwayne Matthews (Angelique) of Heath, TX; great granddaughters, Janae Emerson, Ashley Matthews, Cameshia Tiebout and Jazmine Matthews; and a host of nieces, nephews, relatives and good friends.
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