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My Dad

My Dad 

Published 8/7/08



James Horatio Means, Sr. July 16, 1910 - July 27, 2008 Dr. James H. Means, Sr. passed away peacefully on July 27, 2008 at the age of 98. He had been a source of inspiration and a tower of strength for his loving and beloved family, for his church, as well as for East Austin and the wider community. The grandson of former South Carolina slaves, James H. Means was born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas in 1910. The sixth of seven children, he started school in a two-room schoolhouse, where he excelled in arithmetic and won all the spelling bees. He grew up in a large, loving family based on a firm moral foundation, hard work, entrepreneurial training, music lessons on a variety of instruments, regular church attendance, charitable works, and a dedication to education. After graduating from Merrill High School, he earned his B.S. degree in mathematics from Arkansas A M and N College (now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff) in 1933, followed by an M.S. degree in mathematics at the University of Iowa in 1937. Arriving at Austin's Tillotson College (now Huston-Tilloston University) in 1938, James taught mathematics and physics, headed the Department of Mathematics, was chairman of the physical science division, and chaired or belonged to regional and national mathematics and science societies. He co-authored a college algebra textbook with Dr. John Q. Taylor King, Sr. and published in the American Mathematical Monthly. Before Samuel Huston College and Tillotson College merged, James coached football, basketball, and track. He was elected president of the Gulf States Athletic Conference and vice president of the Big States Athletic Conference. In 1991 Dr. Means was inducted into Huston-Tillotson University's Hall of Fame. James and Bertha Sadler married in December, 1941 in the middle of the excitement around the founding of St. James' Episcopal Church. They started their family, which, until the time of his passing, included five children, 13 grandchildren, and 16 great-grandchildren. A member of St. James' Episcopal Church almost from its founding, Means served on the church vestry and was a former senior warden. In 1958 he was awarded the Doctorate of Education in Mathematics by Oklahoma State University. James became the first African-American precinct chairman in Travis County in 1946 when he became chairman of precinct 125. He later became precinct chairman for precinct 129. He was a former member of the Austin Branch of the NAACP and a former chairman of the board of the NAACP Federal Credit Union, which, in 2000, merged with the East Austin Branch of the Greater Texas Federal Credit Union. He was chairman of the board of Austin Cab Company. Huston-Tillotson's Alumni Association honored Dr. Means for Outstanding Achievements in Mathematics in 1998. In the fall of 2006, the College of Education at Oklahoma State University honored Dr. Means with the Distinguished Alumnus Award as one of the first African-Americans to earn a doctorate there, as a graduate who had made a tremendous impact on his students for 42 years at Huston-Tillotson, and as a graduate who had made excellent use of his talents and education for the greater good. Dr. Means was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, a charter member of Gamma Gamma Boule (Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity), and a Big Brother-all of which engage in great works of charity and inspiration in Austin. He received the Big Brothers Association of Austin Outstanding Service Award in 1978. After retiring, Dr. Means tutored mathematics in a project of the Austin Chapter of the Links Inc. Throughout his life, Dr. Means enjoyed the company of people of all ages and walks of life. His favorite pastime was playing checkers, dominoes, or chess for hours on end at a neighborhood barbershop. He was well-known in the community as being a principled, compassionate, and generous person who was imbued with Christian love and humility. He exemplified for his family the values of service to others, lifelong learning, hard work, and frugality. Dr. Means was preceded in death by his parents Lewis Henry Means and Rebecca Virginia (Richardson) Means, his brothers Emory Lewis Means (Catherine Beatrice Martin), Burbon Austin Means (Lucy Willie), and Uran Joel Means (Viola Murff), and his sisters Gladys A. McIntyre (Sandy McIntyre II), Mildred Dymple Johnson (Rex Johnson), and Versa Thomas (William Thomas). He is survived by his wife, Bertha Elizabeth (Sadler) Means; his sons, James Horatio Means, Jr. (Carol Adams Means) and Ronald Lewis Means (Diane Wright Means); and his daughters, Joan Elizabeth Means Khabele (Paseka Edwin Khabele), Janet Marie Scott (Samuel Thomas Scott II), and Patricia Ann King (Marvin Porter King, Sr.). He is also survived by his grandsons, James Horatio "Tito" Means III, Letsie James "Khotso" Khabele (Jennifer "Moya" Alack), Samuel Thomas Scott III (Aida Wagner), James Weston Scott (Leslie Raynor), and Marvin Porter King, Jr. (Amy Evans); and his granddaughters, Alyssa Anne Means, Jasmine Renee Means, Dineo Khabele (James Willis Hunter), Inonge Khabele-Stevens (Michael Stevens), Katherine Elaine Bryant (Robert Bryant), Rosalyn Marie Smith (John Damien Smith), Rebecca Elizabeth King, and Jamie Elaine King. He is also survived by his great-grandsons, Lebohang James Hunter, Thabo Ezekiel Khabele-Stevens, Tumelo Emmanuel Khabele-Stevens, Tau Robert Khabele, Weston Christopher Scott, Dean Robert Bryant, Maxwell Scott Bryant, Samuel Hayden Scott, Timothy Scott, and Elliott James Smith; and his great-granddaughters, Lesedi Michelle Khabele-Stevens, Palesa Beth Khabele-Stevens, Naledi Moya Khabele, Rachel Elaine Bryant, Mirelle Eloise Scott, and Vanessa Nicole Smith; and a host of nieces and nephews and their families. In lieu of flowers, the following contributions in honor of Dr. James H. Means would be appreciated: St. James' Episcopal Church, 1941 Webberville Rd. Austin, TX 78721, or the James H. Means Endowed Professorship at Huston-Tillotson University, Office of Institutional Advancement, Huston-Tillotson University, 900 Chicon St. Austin, TX 78702. Visitation will be held from 9:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. Friday, August 8th at King-Tears Mortuary. Precelebration will be from 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. Friday, August 8th at Huston-Tillotson University King-Seabrook Chapel. Services will be at 10:00 a.m. Saturday, August 9th at St. James Episcopal Church. Burial will be at Cook-Walden Memorial Hill Cemetery, Pflugerville.

Prof. James Horatio Means Sr.

Means was Democratic leader, veteran educator

July 16, 1910 - Aug. 3, 2008

By Bob Banta


Thursday, August 07, 2008

James Horatio Means Sr., a Huston-Tillotson University professor, prominent businessman and local Democratic Party leader, died Sunday. He was 98.

Means became the first African American Democratic precinct chairman of Travis County in 1946. He was elected chairman of Precinct 125 in East Austin during a career that also included owning a taxicab service and holding a partnership in a lending institution. He also participated in Austin's civil rights movement.

"Dr. Means was a pillar of the African American community at a time when it was very underrepresented politically," U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, said Wednesday. "When I was at the University of Texas (during the late 1960s), several of us students spent a lot of time in the kitchen of the Means' home, working on mailings and door-to-door voter registration efforts. He inspired a lot of youthful enthusiasm among us to see that Travis County better reflected its diversity."

Means was born in Pine Bluff, Ark., on July 16, 1910, the grandson of former slaves from South Carolina. After early education in a two-room schoolhouse, he earned an undergraduate degree in mathematics in 1933 from what is now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and a master's degree in mathematics from the University of Iowa in 1937. In 1958 he received a doctorate in mathematics from Oklahoma State University, where he was honored in 2006 as a distinguished alumnus.

In 1938, Means joined the faculty of Huston-Tillotson, then called Tillotson College, where he taught math and physics, headed the school's math department and was chairman of the college's Division of Natural Sciences. He retired in 1980.

General Marshall, who succeeded Means as head of the division, was a summer student at Huston-Tillotson in 1966 when he met Means.

"He was an excellent teacher and a father figure to me," Marshall, 72, said.

Means was a former member of the Austin branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and a former chairman of the board of the NAACP Federal Credit Union, which later merged with the East Austin branch of the Greater Texas Federal Credit Union. He was also chairman of the board of Austin Cab Co.

His wife, Bertha Means, is a former teacher and administrator in the Austin school district. Besides his wife, Means leaves behind two sons, three daughters, 13 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday at Huston-Tillotson's King-Seabrook Chapel, 900 Chicon St. The funeral will be Saturday at 10 a.m. at St. James Episcopal Church, 1941 Webberville Road.; 246-0005

The family thanks you all for your condolences and prayers.