A short chat about a long life: Mr. “Juny” James

By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer, slyles@newsandpress.net

The News and Press recently had the singular pleasure of conversing with two distinguished Darlington gentlemen: Mr. Lucas Dargan, aged 98, and Mr. Albert James, Jr., aged 99, offered a few reminiscences about their long lives, and we were happy to share Mr. Dargan’s chat with you last week. Now it’s Juny’s turn.

Birthday J James

Albert James, Jr. didn’t ask for his nickname, but he was dubbed “Juny” at a very young age, well before he could argue about it. The arguing skills would come later, after graduating from The Citadel and The University of South Carolina School of Law.

Born in the Palmetto community just outside town, on farmland which his family still owns, James says he aimed himself away from farm life and toward a career in law due to the influence of local attorney Dudley Paulling, an in-law and someone Juny recalls as a positive role model.

“I knew him as I was growing up. I admired him as a fine man, and that probably had something to do with my leaning towards becoming a lawyer,” says James.

Without any formal promise of a job, Juny turned up at Paulling’s law firm with his freshly printed law degree and let it be known that he was ready to work. And that he did. Excepting a hiatus for military service in World War II, James practiced mainly civil law in Darlington continuously for about sixty years.

That foray into active duty landed the Citadel man off the coast of France for the D-Day invasion at Normandy. James vividly recalls riding a Rhino ferry loaded with transport vehicles over choppy seas to the shore, where he lunged behind a dune to dodge machine gun fire from a strafing German fighter plane.

James was charged with scouting locations and setting up anti-aircraft batteries about a mile and a half inland, and he says his battalion used its radar guided 90 mm guns to shoot down approximately 50 high-flying German planes.

After the war, James returned home to wife Marion and young son Albert James III. The little boy was just a baby when James went off to war and, sadly, he didn’t recognize his dad. That lack of familiarity would be remedied, and then some, over the next few decades as Albert III and his younger brother Jay both became lawyers and joined the Paulling and James practice with their father. Juny says working together with both his sons has been a rewarding experience, and mostly a peaceful one.

“I can’t say we’ve always agreed about everything, but we’ve never argued,” he says.

James still lives in the Darlington home he shared with Marion, who has passed on, and he tends to the camellias and azaleas they planted together many years ago. In days past, he greatly enjoyed roaming the fields with his trusty birddog Sandy, and fishing local waterways in a little wooden boat, which now stands vine-covered against a tree in his yard. Despite the losses of loved ones and pastimes, James still gets himself around pretty well, and he remains a fixture at Paulling and James.

“I haven’t done any real work in several years, but I come in to the office every day to pay some bills and take care of personal business. I have a Coke and talk with the secretaries,” says James.

At 99, he still has a valid driver’s license and drives himself to the office. A few times a week, he directs his Chevy pickup to the old Palmetto homestead and watches the farming activities underway.

“I like to go out there and breathe the fresh air and enjoy the country,” says James.

That seems to be Juny’s philosophy for living a long, productive life: work when it’s time to work, relax when it’s time to relax, and exercise moderation in most other areas.

“Don’t indulge too much in things that can harm your body, whether that’s food or drink,” he says. “Enjoy the company of friends and family… and go to church.”

Author: Duane Childers

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