Tuesday, October 6, 2015

R.I.P. | James S. Avery, Sr.

James S. Avery, Sr. (1923-2011)
I worked in Washington, D.C. during the years 2009-2011, and lost touch with James S. (Jim) Avery, Sr.  I later found out that he passed away at the end of that period, in May 2011.

So now belatedly I am posting this as a tribute to his life and extend my sympathy to Joan (Showers) Avery and the Avery family.

Jim had a remarkable life story. He studied engineering at Columbia University and played for its football team.

He was an early African-American executive of a Fortune 500 company, Exxon, and headed two national organizations. He was a leader in local education in Union County, NJ with a focus on getting more disadvantaged youngsters to seek high education and find their place in it.

Jim's life story (2006).
Available here.
He and I worked together on The Book of American City Rankings when he was still at Exxon. He was on the Exxon Loaned Executive Program and worked with me from 1980 to 1983 for the Council on Municipal Performance.

The purpose of the Council was to generate better measures of performance of state and local government to permit greater fiscal accountability and management efficiency.

The book we wrote together, published by 
Facts on File.
As part of that mission, we wrote a book together that was published by Facts on File called The Book of American City Rankings. The book benefited greatly from his diligence and persistence.

I benefited also from our many conversations about American business and governments, American history, his family, and my family.

When Alice and I went to Japan with our two children under the auspices of the Japan Society, he arranged with a friend for the use of what they call in Tokyo a gaijin palace - an American-sized apartment in a city where people are used to living in half the space.

Jim was clear-eyed about everything he did and read. He was an inspiration to me as well as to so many others.