Family, friends mourn death of WWII veteran

LAWTON, OK (KSWO)- Family and friends are mourning the loss of a WWII veteran.
Retired Sergeant Venice James passed away Sunday at the Lawton-Fort Sill Veterans Center.

He was 102-years-old.
"There's no remorse," said Pamela Burks, family friend. "No sadness. We're actually rejoicing because we know he is in a better place and not in any pain."

James was born in Louisiana in 1915. He served in World War Two and the Korean War.

He then returned to Lawton to work as a barber. He was also active in the community, working with the NAACP and many local churches.

Family friend, Pamela Burks said she knew James since she was 10 years old. He used to cut her father and brother's hair at his barbershop.

On Wednesday, she was reminded of those good times with him.

"He cut a lot of hair here in Lawton Oklahoma," said Burks. "We always saw it as a treat to go to his shop because every time we went he would give us a piece of candy or a soda."

"People would come in and if they didn't have enough money to pay for the barbershop he would cut their hair for free and then give them a little bit of money to put food on their table," said Stephen Jester, James' social worker. "That's the kind of man he was."

Jester said James was the oldest person he ever met and was full of wisdom.

"One of the things he taught me through our interactions is never let anything go for granted," said Jester. "Because he was just so thankful somebody took the time out of their day to come down and talk to him."

Thomas McCullough was another person impacted by James. He said they used to spend time reading the newspaper together.

"He was a real gentleman and I enjoyed the little conversations we did have," said McCullough.

Burks said her hope is that all the people that came across James will continue to keep his legacy alive and press forward.

"He would want us to remember to live our best days like they were our last days," said Burks. "Live every day like it was our last."

Burks said James passed peacefully. His funeral will be held Thursday at 10:30 at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church.

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