Services for Jim McWilliams, 73, of Kilgore will be held at Forest Home Baptist Church in Kilgore on Saturday, March 31, 2012 at 2 p.m. Burial will be at Danville Cemetery. Mr. McWilliams passed away on Wednesday evening, March 28, 2012, in Tyler.
James Perry McWilliams was born May 13, 1938, to Robert P. and Freddie Coats McWilliams. Born on a farm in Joinerville, Jim was of the fifth generation in Rusk County. He married Pam Mercer McWilliams on April 13, 1981 in the Texas Capitol Building in Austin, Texas.
James graduated from Gaston High School in 1956, where he was captain of the basketball team and interested in all forms of student government and school life, (when milking the cows didn’t get in the way). At Stephen F. Austin State University, Jim was president of the student body and a graduate teaching assistant where he received his Bachelors and Masters degrees in political science and history. He later served on their board of directors in 1967. He earned his Phd in College Administration from the University of Texas where he worked on a Kellogg Fellowship.
He began his career as a teacher at San Marcos Baptist Academy and later became the academic dean at Lee College in Baytown, Tx. At that time, he was the youngest academic dean in the nation. While there, he developed a college degree program for inmates at the Texas Department of Corrections, which eventually became the largest program of its kind in the nation.
His political career began when he served as a counsel to the Texas House Committee on business and industry. He served as assistant to the University of Texas System President and later as a congressional aide to Jim Mattox, before returning home to run for state representative. He served five terms representing Rusk and Harrison counties. Jim served on the Powerful Appropriations Committee and as chairman of the House committee on energy. Many of the bills that he wrote promoted Texas Oil and Gas, and he served on many oil and gas committees for the Interstate and Southwest area.
Upon retirement from the legislature, Jim became the executive director and vice-president of the East Texas Producers and Royalty Owners Association. He was a land developer and a businessman. Jim was an active member of Forest Home Baptist Church, where he belonged to the Marshall Taylor Men’s Sunday School Class. He was a fine Christian man who dearly loved his family, his beloved wife and his Lord.
Mr. McWilliams is survived by his wife, Pam, son Russell and wife Laura of Dallas, Tx; daughter Teresa Zinda and husband John of Killeen, Tx; grandchildren Jack Zinda and wife Missy, Stephen Zinda, Caitlin Zinda, Erin McWilliams, Sarah McWilliams and great-grandson Jackson Zinda; mother and father-in-law Talmadge and Laverne Mercer; sisters Ena Louis Spalding, Helen Tisdale and husband Bill, Carolyn Hill and husband Harold; brothers and sisters-in-law Marie McWilliams, Jeff and Barbara Mercer, Debbie and Morris Hollowell, David and Mot Mercer, Bryan and Chelly Mercer and Mary and Clay Burton. He is also survived and a host of nieces and nephews whom he dearly loved.
He was preceded in death by his father and mother; sister, Sue Schmidt; brother Robert “Buddy” McWilliams and nephew Justin Mercer.
The family will receive friends at the funeral home from 6:00 until 8:00. Friday evening.