Dr. James E. Jay


Dr. James E. Jay passed away on Sunday, July 19, 2020 in Elk Grove Village, Illinois. Graveside services were held on Thursday, July 30, 2020 at 10:00 A.M. at Rest Haven Memorial Gardens with Pastor Demetris Crum officiating.

He was born September 13, 1934 in Ben Hill County (Fitzgerald), Georgia, to the late Mr. Joseph and Mrs. Pennie Mae Jay.

James walked four miles to school and four miles back home each school day. He graduated from Ocilla Industrial High School in 1953, in a class of thirteen. James decided at an early age that he wanted to go to college. His reason was to get away from two mules, a plow and a cotton sack. He enrolled at Tuskegee Institute in September 1953 and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1957.

After graduating from Tuskegee Institute, James took a teaching position in his home state of Georgia. His new job lasted only three months. James was drafted into the US Army and sent to Germany for two years. After fulfilling his military duty, he was awarded an Honorable Discharge from the Armed Forces of the United States of America.

In 1959, the year he was discharged from the Army, he went to Detroit Michigan to seek employment. He obtained three temporary jobs, none were self-satisfying. In 1960 he returned to Georgia in order to fill the teaching position he had before entering the military. During the summer of 1962, James returned to Tuskegee Institute for the purpose of enrolling in a master degree program and to look for a wife. That summer, he met a beautiful, intelligent and dignified young lady, Ms. Joyce Dean Williams. James knew Joyce was the woman for him and two years later they were married. To this union, they were blessed with a son, Dr. Jonathan Jay and a daughter Mrs. Joye Jay Crum.

In 1968, James went back to Tuskegee University and completed his Masters of Science Degree in 1970. Education was a priority for James, so he continued his journey and attended Michigan State University where he graduated with a Ph.D. in 1974.

Dr. Jay had a very successful professional career: teacher of Vocational Agriculture, Pearson and Sandersville, Georgia; Coordinator of Vocational Education, Central Michigan University; Director of Teacher Education, Tuskegee University. Dr. Jay matriculated through roles of greater scope and responsibility at Michigan State University, including: Professor, Assistant Dean, Director of Academic and Student Affairs, Assistant Vice Provost for the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Michigan State Agricultural Experiment Station, Michigan State University Extension Program. In the later part of his career, he established a Study Abroad Program in Southern Africa. James retired from Michigan State University in 2001.

He was preceded in death by his lovely and beautiful wife of thirty nine years, Dr. Joyce W. Jay and brother: Mr. Clifton Jay.

Dr. Jay leaves many memories to cherish, two wonderful children of whom he was very proud: Dr. Jonathan Jay, Naples, Florida, Mrs. Joye J. (Demetris) Crum, Lake Villa, Illinois; two sisters: Ms. Mildred Manley, Detroit, Michigan, Ms. Carolyn Guy, Macon, Georgia; two grandchildren: Joycelyn Crum, Jasmine Jay; special sister-in-law: Ms. Bernice Williams; a host of nieces, nephews, lifetime friends and Michigan State University colleagues. M.c. Smith Funeral Home in charge.

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