James Ware of Champlin, a retired government administrator and corporate executive who was often honored for his work in civil rights and with the needy, died Tuesday. He was 79. On and off the job, Ware was known for his efforts to ensure rights for all employees and citizens. During the civil rights movement of the 1960s and ’70s, he was a mature, intellectual “warrior,” said Ron Edwards, a community activist. “He was a persuasive person,” Edwards said. “We ultimately leaned on him for program development and economic development.” After serving in the military, earning a bachelor’s degree in business and economics and attending engineering school, he worked in Philadelphia and Chicago in tool design and process engineering. About 1960, he landed in Minneapolis. For several years in the 1960s, he worked as an administrator for Honeywell. In the 1960s and ’70s, he led the Office of Economic Opportunity in Minnesota, later leading the Ramsey Action Program, providing legal assistance and economic development. According to news reports in the late 1960s, many St. Paul neighborhood and nonprofit organizations were scrambling for dollars and bickering over where programs should be located. Ware called for unity of action in the War on Poverty so that Minnesota would get maximum federal funding. His daughter Carol Severe, of Las Vegas, said that he taught the maxim, “Never judge a book by its cover. Read the contents.” She said he was a pioneer because he supported the rights of disenfranchised people and helped initiate Head Start in Minnesota. Ware received many official acknowledgements and awards for his service. From 1976 until his retirement in 1996, he was a Minnesota state official. His state posts included personnel director and plant management director. The Omaha native was a graduate of the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. He did graduate work in engineering at the former Drexel Institute in Philadelphia. He served in the Marines from 1946 to 1948 and the Army in 1951-52. His first wife, Lorraine, from whom he was divorced, died in 2003. He and his second wife, Betty Allison of Minnetonka, also divorced. In addition to his daughter Carol, he is survived by daughters Margarite of Philadelphia and Lauren Masters of Las Vegas; eight sons, Eric Demby and Gregory of St. Paul, Lionel Demby of Minneapolis, Arthur Allen and Terry Allen of San Diego, Stanley of Philadelphia, James of Champlin and Mark of Los Angeles; a sister, Mary of Los Angeles; two brothers, Norvell of Omaha and Douglas of Los Angeles, and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Services will be held at noon today at Willwerscheid Grand Avenue Funeral Chapel, 1167 Grand Av., St. Paul. Visitation will begin at 11 a.m. at the funeral chapel.
Source: Star Tribune: Newspaper of the Twin Cities (Minneapolis, MN) – Monday, October 1, 2007