In Remembrance: James Hester Hargett ’55BD Died on January 1 2018

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Rev. Dr. James Hester Hargett, 87, passed away at his home in Claremont, California, surrounded by his family, on January 1, 2018.

Jim was born on July 24, 1930, in Greensboro, North Carolina. He graduated from Johnson C. Smith University in Greensboro with a BA in political science (pre-law). At JCSU, he met Louilyn Funderburk, the woman he would marry four years later and remain with for his entire life. He received a master of divinity degree from Yale Divinity School.

A UCC pastor for 42 years, his first position after Yale was as associate minister at the Church of the Crossroads in Honolulu, Hawaii. In 1958, he accepted the position of full-time minister at the Congregational Church of Christian Fellowship, UCC, in Los Angeles. He would also serve as secretary of Black Ministries, UCC Council for Church and Ministry, and pastor of the Congregational Church of Park Manor, UCC, in Chicago and Christian Fellowship Congregational Church, UCC, in San Diego. He would be named pastor emeritus of the church in San Diego upon his retirement in 1997.

Jim was a theologian, historian, and tireless social justice advocate. He was a passionate, prophetic preacher and pastor. During the 1960s he was the West Coast Convener for the SCLC and marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. Continually responding to community needs throughout his life, he developed programs and pushed established organizations to enable those underserved in the areas of mental and physical health services, childcare, education, and the arts throughout the United States. He also extended his mission for social justice and health to southern Africa, including working with his church in San Diego to deliver a model solar-powered water desalination machine to drought-stricken Mozambique.

Jim loved reading, history, and music. He was a formidable varsity athlete in high school and college. His leadership of congregations and communities would make him an inspiration and mentor for many young people throughout his career. He is survived by his wife, Louilyn F. Hargett; daughters Meloni (Joseph) Burgess and Hester Hargett (Eric) Aupetit; son Darryl Hargett; grandchildren Nicole Burgess, Aaron Burgess, Oliver Hargett, Grant Hargett, and Jae Hargett; step-grandson Milan Aupetit; sister-in-law Queen Hargett; nephew Kenneth Hargett; grand-nephews Zachary Harrison and Micah Harrison; great-grand-nephew Logan Harrison; and loving godsons, goddaughters, and extended family and friends.

Services were held at Christian Fellowship Congregational Church, UCC, in San Diego on Saturday, January 6. A memorial gathering will later be held at Saint Stephens United Church of Christ in Greensboro, North Carolina, followed by interment at Maplewood Cemetery in Greensboro. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made in Jim’s name to “JCSU ANNUAL FUND,” Johnson C. Smith University, 100 Beattis Ford Road, Charlotte, NC, 28216.

—Submitted by the family.

A full story appeared in the Los Angeles Times on January 5, 2018.

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