Emma Lee James McCleave, daughter of the late Authur James Jr. and Cora Lee Sadler James, was born on November 28, 1946, in Gastonia, North Carolina, and called to eternal rest on Saturday, September 23, 2023, at her beloved daughter’s home in Williamsburg, Virginia.
At an early age, she accepted Christ and became a member of St. Peter’s A.M.E. Zion Church, in Gastonia, North Carolina. She attended Highland High School and graduated in 1964. In 1975, she joined the United States Army and spent twenty-one years as an active-duty soldier. While serving in the military she received numerous commendations, achievement medals, and a Bronze Star award. She also participated in the Gulf War (Desert Storm and Desert Shield). After retiring from the military in 1995 as a Sergeant First Class (E-7), she worked at the College of William & Mary for several years where she was part of the Routine Support team.
She was a devoted mother, mother-in-law, grandmother, daughter, sister, and aunt. She enjoyed spending time with her family, playing BINGO and card games, traveling, shopping, and she loved her Washington Redskins (Commanders). She will be missed by all who knew her.
She is also preceded in death by two sisters, Dorothy James and Chandra Louise James; and two brothers, Gene James and Rosebud James.
Emma leaves to cherish fond memories with her two loving daughters, Chandra Upshaw (Dale) of Texas and LaDonna Cook (Shawn) of Virginia; five grandchildren, Ronnie, Nyla, DaShawn, RaShawn, and Destiny; two sisters, Shirley Woody and Connie James, all of North Carolina; two brothers, Jessie James and Herbert James, all of North Carolina; and a host of other relatives and friends.
A graveside service with full military honors will be held at 11 a.m. Monday, October 2, 2023, in Albert G. Horton Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery.