Charles Marion James '59
The Alumni Service Award is presented to alumni and other friends of Davidson College who have rendered and performed a high degree of service to the institution. Today we are honored to recognize Charles Marion James of the Class of 1959.
Charles James entered Davidson College in 1955 as a highly touted football recruit. Davidson coach Bill Dole had high hopes that this “tow-headed six footer” would be a key lineman for the Wildcats. Charlie did not disappoint. He lettered his freshman year and returned bigger and stronger his sophomore year. One sports reporter commented in 1956 that “Dole knew he had a good boy when Charlie chose Davidson, and that extra beef adds joy to the knowledge.” What that reporter neglected to mention, however, was the impressive list of achievements off the field that made Charlie an even greater asset to the college community. He came here as an honor student and president of his high school student body and continued to demonstrate his ability to lead both on and off the field. In addition to being co-captain of the football team, Charlie was active in the Kappa Sigma fraternity and a member of numerous clubs and campus groups, including the D Club and the Beaver Club -- all while majoring in pre-med! In another news clip from 1956, a reporter noted that Charlie was “a young man possessed with the desire, the competitive spirit and that commodity commonly called guts.” Clearly, this reporter understood something about Charlie.
After graduating from Davidson in 1959, Charlie went on to medical school at Duke, completed his internship and residency at the Medical College of Virginia, and served in the Air Force for two years. He enjoyed a long and successful career as an orthopaedic surgeon at West End Orthopaedic Clinic in Richmond and has been an active volunteer in his community and church. Throughout his life’s journey, Charlie never forgot his roots at Davidson College, and answered the call to serve whenever he was asked. Charlie was President of the Richmond Alumni Chapter, Vice President of the Alumni Association Board, and a faithful volunteer in The Annual Fund and The Campaign for Davidson. In addition to these official roles, Charlie was instrumental in steering countless high school students toward Davidson College. He devoted considerable time, and endless enthusiasm, to the Wildcat football coaching staff as they recruited in Richmond, and later joined the Davidson Alumni Admission Program to assist his alma mater in attracting the best and brightest candidates from the Virginia region.
Perhaps Charlie’s natural inclination to recruit others to Davidson stems from the fact that he embodies so many of the characteristics we hope to find, and nurture, in a Davidson student: academic prowess, physical skill, enthusiastic spirit, and a generous heart.
For his contributions during his years at Davidson and for his selfless service in the five decades that have followed, the Davidson College Alumni Association honors Charles Marion James of the Class of 1959 with the Alumni Service Award on the occasion of his 50th Reunion, this 25th day of April, 2009.