James H. Sinclair, age 94, of Dayton, TN passed away on December 8, 2021. Three days later, on December 11, he would have been 95 years old. He was a veteran of WWII and made 9 trips across the Atlantic as one of two medics and a physician bringing back the wounded from Europe in the last 18 months of the war. He did everything that had to be done from suturing to debridement of wounds.
He was an educator, truant officer, and special Ed instructor. He was the first certified teacher hired by Lauralbrook School. James never finished his Doctorate in Education at UT Knoxville, for he decided he was not a political-minded enough candidate to run for Superintendent of Schools after all. He would rather spend his days as "the Principal" of the school.
When TVA finally put power lines up to the last section of Dayton Mountain, after teaching all day long, he spent countless hours installing electrical lines into multiple simple homes. All were so thankful; especially those who could hardly afford to pay him. In the end, James would let them pay with sacks of black walnuts or whatever they would offer in barter.
Many summers James would be "building another house." There wasn't a thing he could not do. Even the kids would be put to work and it would be a "family affair." The homes were usually cinderblock or simple stick built. The owner was often a farmer, mechanic, or factory worker. In the end, everyone contributed, and all were so thankful for the sound new home and roof over their head.
James was an excellent stonemason and fireplace builder. His work can be found all over the mountain and in Chattanooga homes. A publicly accessible view of his stone walls, pillars, and fireplaces is found throughout Fort Bluff Camp on the edge of Dayton Mountain. He had the reputation of being able to build fireplaces that would "draw" perfectly and never smoked. When asked of him how many he had built, he had trouble remembering.
Last, of all, James was a farmer at heart; his serenity came from working the land. He, like his father, wanted to be a mountain landowner. He was willing to go into debt for the 186-acre purchase that was finally paid off in 1970. Upon graduation from Southern, he refused all early job offers in Chattanooga. Jean, his wife, had a hard time forgiving him for some of this for she was a Brooklyn, NY girl whose love was toward music, art, and people and not isolation. He was heard to say many times, "everyone loved Jean and I got to come along with her." Their love story is one of the sweetest that you will ever hear. They were far from being perfect, and though opposites seem to have attracted, if nothing else, after all was said and done, they loved and shared 65 years together.
He was preceded in death by his parents David George and Cleo Bell (Shanks) Sinclair; his wife Jean Marie (Newberg) Sinclair; siblings Anne Vallance, Joyce Jean, Paul Sinclair, and Donald Sinclair; and niece Donna Kay Sinclair.
James is survived by his children Linda Jean Sinclair Silvera, Leslie David Sinclair, and Barry James Sinclair; grandchildren Mark B. Hellmann, Catherine J. Hellmann Jenkins, Melissa A. Mull Kendrick, Leslie “David” Sinclair, Jr., Shalon Nicole Sinclair Swearengin; and Jennifer Marie Sinclair Drury; great grandchildren Sarah and Mathew Hellmann, Cameron, Noah, Lacey, Piper and Peyton Sinclair, Kason Wolf Kendrick and Everett Sinclair Drury.
A memorial service will be held on December 19, 2021, at 3:00 PM in the chapel of Coulter Garrison Funeral Home with officiating pastors Carroll Henderson, Dave Sekura, and Daniel Serban.
The family will receive friends from 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM at Coulter Garrison Funeral Home in Dayton, TN.