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Music by the O'Neill Brothers


James "Cool Popa" McKinley, Jr.

October 29, 1944 ~ March 27, 2018 (age 73)

Reflections of His Journey


James McKinley, Jr. was born on October 29, 1944 in Bessemer, Alabama. He was the first of eight children born to the late James and Inez McKinley.  On Tuesday, March 27, 2018 he was called home to be with the Lord. 

James was affectionately known as, Gus, Cool Papa, Most Mellow, Barborina, Little Buddy, J.R. and others and answered to them all.

James lived most of his young life with his grandparents, Abraham (Prime) and Lola (Nin) McKinley in Uniontown, Alabama. He was a member Woodlawn Baptist Church. He graduated in 1962, from Robert C. Hatch High School/Perry County Training School in Uniontown, Alabama. He also attended Lawson State Community College in Birmingham, Alabama and Ivy Tech here in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

James moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana, in 1963 and became employed with St. Joseph Hospital. He worked in various departments within the hospital, eventually becoming the first Black X-Ray Technician.

James loved to dress and have fun, thus earning that name “Cool Papa! Even when he was diagnosed with cancer, he kept his cool and when the cancer went into remission, he was concerned about helping others.

James spent some time at Pastor Harris’ Jubilee House where he always was the life of the House. He also became a member of Oakridge Temple COGIC, under the leadership of Pastor Elijah Harris, while he was at the Jubilee House. He later worshipped with Joshua’s Temple Church.

James loved to dance and be the life of the party and wherever he would go, people greeted him with much love. He loved to watch TV.  His favorite shows were Criminal Minds, Law and Order, NCIS, 48 Hours ID, any other movie that had to do with investigation. He loved to play Chess and Bid Whist. His family and many friends will miss him. 

James leaves to cherish his memories, his daughter, Tamiko (Charles) Hall of Jacksonville, Florida; sisters, Dr. DeLois McKinley (Larry) Eldridge of Fort Wayne, IN and Lola Jean Moorer of Bessemer, Alabama; brothers, Tommie McKinley of Bessemer, Alabama, Ronald (Ivy) McKinley of Elgin, Illinois, Donald McKinley of Fort Wayne, Indiana, Carl (Helen) McKinley of Bessemer, Alabama and Bernard Ray McKinley of Fort Wayne, Indiana; two grandchildren, Kaila McKinley and Xavier Russell, and a  host of nieces, nephews, cousins, other relatives and friends.  He had two special friends, Raymond (Bronkie) Lockett,  and Trence McGee.

Burial in Lindenwood Cemetery 

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