Dr. Frank Edward James
January 5, 1931 – March 13, 2019
Dr. Francis Edward James, Jr., decorated Colonel of the USAF, award-winning economic theorist, and Founder and Chairman of James Investment Research, passed away on Wednesday, March 13th surrounded by his loving wife and family.
Born on Jan 5, 1931 in Woodville, MS to F. E. James, Sr. and Ruth Phillips James, Frank learned the value of hard work on his family’s small dairy farm in Reserve, LA. Frank cared for the cattle, read as many books as he could get his hands on, spoke fluent French and English, and graduated high school at the tender age of fifteen. From there, his family made the move to Baton Rouge, so that he could earn an B.S. from Louisiana State University.
On November 3rd, 1952, Frank married the love of his life and, as he said, “the prettiest girl I’d ever seen.” Iris Rae Senn walked down the aisle at Frank’s home church, St. James Episcopal in Baton Rouge, and said, “I do.” The two would go on to have three sons: Frank III, Barry, and David, and be happily married until Frank’s last breath: a total of over 66 years.
After graduating from LSU, Frank signed up with the United States Air Force. “I was real patriotic,” he said, “I thought I was doing my bit.” During his time in the military, he served in South Korea, in the Cold War, and in Vietnam.
During his twenty-two years serving his country, Frank flew more than 50 missions in Korea, served in the Strategic Air Command (SAC), and was eventually promoted to Colonel and worked as a statistical analyst at Tan Son Nhut Air Base in Saigon. He received multiple awards for his valorous acts and commitment to country. His honors included two combat awards: the Air Medal for his meritorious achievements of destroying significant enemy supplies while under heavy attack, and the Distinguished Flying Cross for his heroic act of manually releasing a stuck activated bomb during flight. In Vietnam, the statistical analysis he performed every evening was said to be reviewed by the secretary of defense and President Nixon over breakfast the following morning.
Recognizing his exceptional intelligence, the Air Force sent Frank to study at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to earn his master’s and his doctorate under one condition: he could only have half the usually required six years to get through all his courses. He did, and the research he produced in those three short years would lay a new foundation for the future of economic theory.
Until that time, Frank says, no one had ever collected evidence that the stock market was anything except random. Frank set about gathering and analyzing the performance of every stock on the New York Stock Exchange from 1926 to 1960. His discover of relative strength went against all of the prevailing beliefs of investment experts at that time and is now a commonplace investment principle taught in universities and used by investors worldwide.
In 1967, The Air Force Institute of Technology, who sponsored his doctoral degree, requested that the now Dr. James work as an associate professor. So, Frank and Iris along with their sons moved to what would become their final hometown of Dayton, Ohio. Over his years instructing, he worked to develop statistical “Confidence Tables” for accurate troop, supply, and bomb delivery under adverse weather conditions, used by Tactical Air Command. He contributed and published countless academic articles, was voted “Best Teacher” several times, and was eventually appointed to serve as the head of what was then called the Quantitative Studies Department.
From the years of his dissertation until 1972, Dr. James found one of his greatest joys after his AFIT teaching hours: researching the stock market. His statistical methods proved to yield the type of results other people noticed, and he began receiving requests that he manage and invest their money as well. However, the start of his business, James Investment Research (JIR), came at the price of turning down a big opportunity with the USAF - a relocation to Washington DC and the possibility of General. Instead, Frank took a chance, and relocated his office to his son’s bedroom closet and the kitchen table.
For the years that followed, he, Iris, and his sons would build the foundation of James Investment Research. The Jameses relied entirely on the ground-breaking research of Dr. James’s dissertation and his ongoing contrarian market analysis. “When we first started, people did think we were kind of nuts,” Dr. James said.
However, it wasn’t long before the naysayers were asking to come on board.
Over the years, James Investment Research and Dr. James’ investing strategies gained national recognition. Barron’s, The New York Times, and Forbes all wrote articles on and/or mentioned JIR’s investment tactics regularly. Dr. James was named Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s first Alumni Association Fellow, and Nelson Publications listed JIR as one of America’s best money managers.
The Cincinnati Enquirer elaborated on this when they profiled Dr. James, – “The Backwoods Money Manager” – who had “one of the best track records in the investment industry.” The firm’s James Balanced Golden Rainbow Fund has been awarded Best Mixed-Asset Allocation Moderate Fund Over 10 years by Lipper, a Reuters company. The Fund also received Performance Achievement Certificates for a No. 1 ranking for both the one-year and five-year periods.
During the last decades of his life, Dr. James could be found hard at work behind his desk, astride a beautiful Saddlebred show horse, or casting out his fly line. He was a man of startling conviction, who embodied one of his favorite Bible quotes, “Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.” While his contributions to his country and the fields of economics and statistics were prodigious, those closest to him recall his kindness, his humor, and his integrity. As his wife, Iris, says, “He loved three things: his family, his country, and God.”
He lived courageously, and in doing so, aligned his life with his favorite stock market saying, “It takes a lot of courage, but if you tend to do what everyone else is doing, you tend to get average results.”
Dr. James is survived by his loving and devoted wife Iris, his three sons: Frank III & wife Peggy, Barry & wife Joyanna, and David; as well as his brother, David Phillips James & wife Lillian; and by his brother in law, William Senn & wife Patricia.
His Legacy continues with his grandchildren: Benjamin & wife Dr. Stephanie; Meg & husband Collin; Alycia & husband Eric; Matthew; and Alexander; and lives on even further through his great grandchildren: Jack, Maisy, Evelyn, and Ainsley James, as well as Sophie and Atticus Wirick.
His family would also like to thank friends Jack and Barbara Vollmer, Ann Kramer, Kenny Williams, Kim Lay, and Dr. Fall Anina.
A special thank you to Grace Works at Home and all of the aides that supported Dr. James during his final months.
Visitation will be held between the hours of 10am-12pm on Saturday, the 16th of March at the Dayton Vineyard (4051 Indian Ripple Rd., Beavercreek, OH) followed by a 12pm service start and a reception after.
In lieu of flowers, a donation in memory of Dr. James can be made to Hospice of Dayton foundation at www.hospiceofdayton.org/donations
Written by Meg James-Murphy & Alexander James
- Visitation Saturday, March 16, 2019
- Life Celebration Saturday, March 16, 2019
Dr. Frank Edward James
March 19, 2019
We were so sorry to hear about the passing of Dr. James I always enjoyed talking to him at the vision center about Anna Maria Island and sailing. He was such an accomplished man and will be missed. My thoughts are with Iris and your family. I am retired and in Florida now but have found memories of both of you. Respectfully Margaret and Craig Mast
Frankie Lee Watson
March 15, 2019
Dr. Frank was a true friend. He was a man of wisdom and integrity. His life exemplified kindness, gentleness, patience, compassion, strength, great respect and honor for his employees, and a deep love of his family.
We mourn your loss, and shall surely miss him. You are in our thoughts and prayers.
May God give you peace.
Cecil W. and Frankie Lee Watson
March 15, 2019
Tom and I were so sorry to hear about Frank. He was a great friend and patient. We extend our sincere sympathy to all the family. May God bless all of you. Tom and Elsie Stahl
March 14, 2019
So sorry to hear of Dr James passing. A great man, great outdoorsman and a great friend to all who knew him. The whole James family is in our prayers.
Nick, Ashley and Noah Maloney
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