Deacon James Witherspoon, affectionately known as "Spoon" and "Fireball," departed this life on Wednesday, June 3, 2020, at home.

James was born on Jan. 28, 1934, in Sumter, to the late Henrietta B. Witherspoon Washington and James Witherspoon. After the death of his father, James was raised by his stepfather, Woodrow Washington. James was educated in the public schools of Sumter. He later enlisted in the United States Navy, where he traveled the world and had the honor of dining with Queen Elizabeth. He received an honorable discharge on Nov. 16, 1961. James later attended Sumter Technical College, receiving certificates in refrigeration and air condition repairs. He retired from Palmetto Pigeon after 50 years of dedication and hard work, of which he enjoyed. He sold insurance under Wilson's and Associates. He was also employed as a caretaker for USDA Rural Development Government Property for five years. He was a proud member of the Sumter South Carolina Combat Veterans Group.

James loved his family and life. James was united in holy matrimony to Janie Mickens on Dec. 25, 1952, and from that union they had eight children. One of his favorite sayings was "Some people learn early, some people learn late, and some people don't ever learn." James was a lifelong member of New Hope Ministries Church in Sumter, where he faithfully served as a deacon, Sunday school superintendent, Sunday school teacher and trustee board member. He later served as a member of the usher board, until his health would no longer allow him. James was anointed and blessed with the gift of "laying of hands for healing."

He leaves to cherish his precious memories: his wife, Janie O. Mickens Witherspoon of 67 years; two sons, James E. Witherspoon (Crystal) and the Rev. Clifton N. Witherspoon; five daughters, Loretta Rogers (Pastor J. Russell), Fiesta and Dwight Brooks, loving and dedicated caregivers, Dr. Christola D. Brayboy (Melvin), Pamala W. Mercer (Kenneth) and Minister Quentina W. Gregg (Cephus); 14 grandchildren; 21 great-grandchildren; two great-great-grandchildren; a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, in-laws, other relatives and friends.

The family is receiving relatives and friends at the home, 13 Cherokee St., Sumter.

Funeral services will be held at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday at New Hope Ministries, 95 Community St., Sumter, with Elder John R. Rogers, pastor, and Bishop David A. Smith, eulogist.

The remains will be placed in the church at 10:30 a.m.

The procession will leave from the home at 10:50 a.m.

Burial will be at Evergreen Memorial Park, 802 N. Guignard Drive, Sumter.

Services directed by the management and staff of Williams Funeral Home Inc., 821 N. Main St., Sumter.

Online memorial messages may be sent to the family at williamsfuneralhome@sc.rr.com. Visit us on the web at www.WilliamsFuneralHomeInc.com.