James Paige III Remembers As Pioneer, Leader Of The Wheeling Community | News, Sports, Jobs




WHEELING – James H. Paige III was a high school and college basketball star. He was a community leader who worked for a better life for the children of the neighborhood he grew up in. He was a pioneer in politics, holding at one time the distinction of being America’s youngest state banking commissioner. And former President George HW Bush honored him as a “point of light” for the nation.

The Wheeling resident was also a father, mentor and friend to everyone he met. His smile lit up a room, and his laid-back personality and thoughtful approach to dealing with others set him apart from many of his peers.

Paige passed away on Wednesday. He was 60 years old.

His life has been filled with milestones and accomplishments, ranging from his education and athletic achievements to career advancement and, most importantly, his family. One of his greatest achievements was here in Wheeling with the creation of the James Paige Learning Center, which was located in the East Wheeling neighborhood where he and his sisters grew up.

The center was a community effort to renovate a neglected building on Lind Street and provide young people with a place to study and learn after school and on weekends. The result was well received by the community, with dozens of volunteers lending a hand. Realizing the importance of education in her life, Paige went on to develop three additional learning centers statewide.

Paige’s early years were shaped at Wheeling Country Day School. He will go to Wheeling Park High School, where he graduated with honors. With his academic prowess, his hard skills were legendary. In his senior year, he was named to the West Virginia All-State basketball team.

He continued as a basketball player at Bethany College where he scored 1,141 points for the Bison during his four years there. In 1982, he was chosen as the President’s Sports Conference Player of the Year. He earned a degree in social work, then went to the University of Pittsburgh, where he earned a master’s degree in public administration.

His next stop was at West Virginia University College of Law, as he graduated from law in 1987. He worked as a trust agent at Pittsburgh National Bank when then West Virginia Governor Gaston Caperton , hired him for the post of state bank. Commissioner. Paige was 28 at the time and the youngest in the country to hold such a position.

He later became Caperton’s tax commissioner. Wheeling native Robin Capehart, who took over from Paige in that office, said Paige stayed for a few months as a consultant during the early days of the Underwood administration, and they quickly became friends.

“James was such a great guy, just a genuine person, the kind of person you meet and love immediately,” Capehart said. “I have never met a nicer and more sympathetic person. He always had a smile on his face, he was always interested in what you were doing and what was going on in your life. He was very kind and helpful to me when I became Tax Commissioner.

Despite her duties in Charleston, Paige never forgot Wheeling and her childhood friends. He and the late Perry Galloway co-founded the annual Elks Basketball Tournament at the Elks Playground in East Wheeling to show at-risk youth in the area that there was a way to better lives through sport and education.

Paige’s good works have not gone unnoticed. In 1992, he was honored by President Bush as one of 21 President’s Points of Light winners. In 1996, he received a National Service Award for his “community service activities that help strengthen families.”

Owens Brown, President of the West Virginia Chapter of the NAACP, said: “It is a tragedy to lose a person with so much promise and truly a trailblazer, not only for black people in West Virginia, but for all. West Virginia. He was the youngest banking commissioner in the country and became an important role model in the African American community and in fact inspired so many others to try to find out what is possible through education.

“I am very saddened that he was taken from us at such a young age. I wish we could help him more in his difficult times.

Paige is survived by her son, three sisters and a grandson on the way.

Visits will take place on Friday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. August 27, at Altmeyer Funeral Home, 14th and Eoff St, Wheeling. Friends will then be received from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. service on Saturday, August 28 at the Macedonian Baptist Church, 105 12th St., Wheeling.

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