WHEELING — James H. Paige III was a highschool and school basketball standout. He was a group chief who labored to raised life for kids within the neighborhood during which he grew up. He was a trailblazer in politics, at one time holding the excellence of being the youngest state banking commissioner in America. And the late-President George H.W. Bush honored him as a “Level of Gentle” for the nation.
The Wheeling resident additionally was a father, a mentor, and a buddy to everybody he met. His smile lit up a room, and his easy-going persona and considerate strategy to coping with others set him aside from a lot of his friends.
Paige died Wednesday. He was 60.
His life was crammed with milestones and accomplishments, starting from his training to his athletic achievements to his skilled development and, most significantly, his household. One in all his largest accomplishments came about proper right here in Wheeling with the creation of the James Paige Studying Middle, which was situated within the East Wheeling neighborhood the place he and his sisters grew up.
The middle was a group effort to refurbish a uncared for constructing on Lind Avenue and supply kids a spot to check and be taught after faculty and on weekends. The end result was well-received by the group, with scores of volunteers lending a hand. Realizing the significance training performed in his life, Paige went on to develop three further studying facilities all through the state.
Paige’s early years have been formed at Wheeling Nation Day College. He would go to Wheeling Park Excessive College, the place he graduated with honors. Alongside together with his educational prowess, his abilities on the hardcourt have been legendary. Throughout his senior yr, he was named to West Virginia’s All-State basketball squad.
He continued as a basketball standout at Bethany Faculty the place he scored 1,141 factors for the Bison over his 4 years there. In 1982, he was chosen because the President’s Athletic Convention Participant of the 12 months. He graduated with a level in social work, after which went on to the College of Pittsburgh, the place he earned a grasp’s diploma in Public Administration.
His subsequent cease was on the West Virginia College Faculty of Legislation, as he earned his legislation diploma in 1987. He labored as a belief officer on the Pittsburgh Nationwide Financial institution when then-West Virginia Gov. Gaston Caperton tapped him for the place of state banking commissioner. Paige was 28 on the time and was the youngest particular person within the nation to carry such a place.
He later went on to be Caperton’s tax commissioner. Wheeling native Robin Capehart, who succeeded Paige in that workplace, mentioned Paige stayed on for a couple of months as a advisor in the course of the starting of the Underwood Administration, and that the 2 of them grew to become quick associates.
“James was such an excellent man, only a real particular person, the sort of particular person you meet and instantly take a liking to,” Capehart mentioned. “I’ve by no means met a extra personable and likeable particular person. He all the time had a smile on his face, he all the time was involved in what you have been doing and what was happening in your life. He was very gracious and useful to me after I grew to become tax commissioner.”
Regardless of his duties in Charleston, Paige by no means forgot Wheeling and his childhood associates. He and the late Perry Galloway co-founded the annual Elks Basketball Event on the Elks Playground in East Wheeling as a method to present at-risk youth from the area that there was a method to a greater life via sports activities and training.
Paige’s good works didn’t go unnoticed. In 1992, he was honored by President Bush as one among solely 21 President’s Factors of Gentle winners. In 1996, he acquired a Nationwide Service Award for “group service actions that assist strengthen the household.”
Owens Brown, president of the West Virginia chapter of the NAACP, mentioned “It’s a tragedy to lose an individual with a lot promise and actually a trailblazer, not only for Black West Virginians however all West Virginians. He was the youngest banking commissioner within the nation and have become a big position mannequin within the African-American group and truly impressed so many others to attempt to know what is feasible via training.
“I’m very saddened that he has been taken away from us at such an early age. I want we may have helped him extra in his time of want.”
Paige is survived by his son, three sisters and a grandson on the way in which.
Visitation might be held from 4-8 p.m. Friday. Aug. 27, at Altmeyer Funeral House, 14th and Eoff avenue, Wheeling. Buddies will then be acquired from 11 a.m. till time of service at 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 28 at Macedonia Baptist Church, 105 twelfth St., Wheeling.