James Newell McCord Jr., 78, W&M professor emeritus and First Night Williamsburg founder

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James Newell McCord Jr.
James Newell McCord Jr.

James Newell McCord Jr., 78, passed away peacefully Thursday, June 16, 2016, having lived a full life, the last 10 years with Lewy Body Dementia and Parkinson’s Disease.

Jim was professor emeritus of British history at the College of William & Mary, where he taught for 40 years before retiring in 2005. While at the College, among his many roles, he served as chair of the Lyon Gardiner Tyler Department of History, Faculty Marshal of the Alpha Chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa Academic Honor Society and was one of the founders of the Town and Gown luncheon and speaker series. Jim was the 2005 recipient of the Thomas Jefferson Award, the College’s highest honor bestowed upon faculty for service and leadership.

Jim’s dedication to public service extended beyond campus to the community, where he served on the Williamsburg City Council for eight years, supporting the first expansion of the Williamsburg Regional Library, construction of the James City County Recreation Center, and enriching the lives of the residents of Williamsburg in countless other ways. One of Jim’s proudest achievements was founding First Night Williamsburg in 1993 and subsequently serving as its first director and later as director emeritus. First Night quickly grew to be an annual Williamsburg tradition as a family-friendly New Year’s Eve celebration and performing arts festival for more than 5,000 community members and visitors.

Jim will be remembered as an easy-going and humble consensus builder; lover of tennis and family beach trips; passionate and tireless community organizer; gracious and generous host to family, countless students and colleagues; and hard-working college professor who rode his bike to campus every day.

Jim was preceded in death by his parents, James Sr. and Alma McCord of Winter Garden, Fla.

Jim is survived by his loving caregiver in later life, Gail, who was his high school sweetheart, best friend and wife of nearly 55 years; son, Rob McCord, and his wife, Jennifer, of Newport News, and their sons, Robert (Will) and Chris; daughter, Kate McCord, and her partner, Liz Cascone, of Williamsburg; Kate’s children, Zoë and Arlo Mourredes, and their father, George Mourredes; and Jim’s brother, Richard, and his wife, Orean McCord, of Niceville, Fla.

The family will welcome visitors from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 21, at Nelsen Funeral Home, 3785 Strawberry Plains Road, Willliamsburg. A private graveside ceremony will follow.

The family offers their special thanks to the staff of Greenfield Senior Living of Williamsburg for their support and compassion during the last two years of his illness.

In lieu of flowers, donations in honor of Jim’s memory may be made to a favorite local charity.

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