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James’ life began Nov. 16, 1939, in Olaphant, Arkansas. As a young man he moved to Michigan. He worked many years for Walsh’s Body Shop in Benton Harbor. Doing body work was also a hobby; you could find him fixing cars in his spare time. He enjoyed traveling, camping, riding his motorcycle and following NASCAR.

James leaves behind a large loving family to cherish his memory including: four children, Melissa (Chris) Hopper, James R. (Jen) Latham, Joseph D. (Dawn) Latham, and Jason N. (Dawn) Latham; six step-children, Robert (Margie) Latham, Judi (Greg) Arnt, Roger (Linda) Latham, Craig Latham, Dorothy Leas, and John (Dawn) Latham; numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren; a sister, Mary Alice Voisard; and several nieces and nephews.

James died Friday, Sept. 17, 2021 at home with family.

He is preceded in death by: two wives, Betty Jean Latham and Gertrude “Trudy” Latham; four siblings, Ellen Maxine Howley, Emma Jean Ashley, Richard Latham and John Latham; and his parents, Wallace Latham and Bessie (Starnes) Ashley.

Hutchins Funeral Home in Watervliet is assisting James’ family with cremation. They will celebrate his life with a memorial service later and he will be buried privately at Watervliet Cemetery. You are invited to leave a message of comfort for James family at


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