James Julius Caraway was born in the Methodist parsonage in Winnfield, Louisiana, on January 8, 1926, and died April 8, 2016, in Monroe, Louisiana. The third child of Minnie Merle Youngblood and the Reverend Porter Myers Caraway, Sr., he was named after his two grandfathers. Jimmie quickly became itinerant, moving with his family to New Orleans, Mississippi, New Mexico, Northeast Texas and South Texas before returning to Louisiana. Continuing in this trend he itinerated to several institutions of higher learning: Centenary College, Southern Methodist University, the University of Southwestern Louisiana (now ULL), East Texas State University (now Texas A&M-Commerce) and finally Perkins School of Theology at SMU, with an interruption for military service. He was proud to be a veteran of the U.S. Navy, serving in the South Pacific during World War II.
In 1943 Jimmie was licensed to preach in the Louisiana Conference and pastored churches in the North Texas Conference before entering the Louisiana Conference in 1949. He and Mary Linn Miller of Shreveport were married in 1947 and together they served churches in Greenville (Texas), Grand Cane, Shreveport, Bunkie, New Orleans, Homer, Minden, and Lafayette. He organized the newly-formed Hammond District in 1969 and was Superintendent of the Monroe District before being appointed as Executive Director of Financial Affairs in 1979. A year later the position of President of the United Methodist Foundation of Louisiana, which he was instrumental in organizing, was added to his responsibilities. It was in these positions that he brought the Conference Office into the computer age and utilized his natural talent in finance.
In his capacity as Chairman of the Jurisdictional Council on Finance and Administration (1980-84) he served on the Boards of SMU, St. Paul School of Theology, Mt. Sequoyah Assembly, Lydia Patterson Institute, and Gulfside Assembly. He received an honorary doctorate degree from Centenary College in 1978, was Perkins School of Theology Volunteer of the Year in 1984, and was listed in Who’s Who in Religion and Who’s Who in Methodism.
After he retired in 1991 with 44 years of active service Jimmie chose to maintain his home in Baton Rouge, but moved closer to family in Monroe eleven years later. Having been named to the General Council on Finance and Administration in 1984, he continued his work in finance and served on the Investment Committee of that council for a record 16 years. In retirement he was also Executive Secretary of the National Association of United Methodist Foundations for three years and on the Investment Committee of the Methodist Children’s Home in Ruston. He was one of the founding directors and elected treasurer of the national United Methodist Church Foundation in 1999.
He and Mary Linn raised five children, of whom he was very proud: Rev. Linn C. Zink (Stephen), Judge Jay Caraway (Sandra), Jan C. Humphries (Richard), Ann C. Wideman (Fred) and Ray Caraway (Mary). After Mary Linn died as a result of an automobile accident he married Carol Zimmerman Watkins of Monroe in 1982 and thus became step-father to Lisa W. Thomas (Sloan) and Grace W. Holloway (Wayne). He was a caring and generous husband, father and grandfather to 15 and great-grandfather to 11.
Travel was in his blood and with Mary Linn and later Carol he made many trips in the U.S. and to many parts of the world; in 1991 he traveled around the world in celebration of his retirement.
Pastors and friends approached him through the years to testify about his influence upon them and his help in times of trouble. He was a dedicated man of God, grateful for the many blessings bestowed upon him, and he shared his love, knowledge and financial resources with his family. friends and church. He felt God had blessed his life with Christian parents and brothers and sisters, two faithful wives, seven children and families, friends, and the comforts of life beyond his wildest dreams. He continually expressed gratitude to God for all his blessings in life.
Memorial services were held on April 11, 2016, at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Monroe with interment in the columbarium of the church.