Former Gloucester City Mayor William James Dies Suddenly; Funeral Services Pending
Brooklawn Mayor Branella, Council Members McCleary & McConnell Take Oath of Office

Bill James, The Longest Serving Mayor in Gloucester City's History Dies Suddenly


William E. Cleary Sr. | CNBNewsnet


GLOUCESTER CITY NJ (January 21, 2019)(CNBNewsnet)William P. James, the former mayor of Gloucester City passed away suddenly earlier today, at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Camden. James was elected in 2006 to his first four-year term running on a ticket that included council candidates Nick Marchese and Jay Brophy under the banner "The James Gang".   James and "His Gang" got elected that year. (photo below) And although Marchese and Brophy eventually moved on James was elected two more times becoming the longest-serving mayor in the city's history. 

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Jay Brophy, Bill James, and Nick Marchese
CNBNews photo

 Newly installed mayor, Dan Spencer, who replaced James 18 days ago said, "He was like so many other mayors and council members who have served this city over the years. They do it not for fame but because they love our community. Bill James had only intended to run for two terms but he wanted to see several projects that he and council had started completed. He asked me to run four years ago and I said no. This time when he asked me I accepted his offer."

"Billy was a cop and everyone thought of him as a tough policeman. But there was another side to the mayor that not everyone got to see. I have been serving on council next to him for the past 12 years. I got to see the real Bill James who had a heart of gold. He loved his wife. He was a great husband. He loved his children and did everything he could for them. And more so he loved his five grandchildren. He said he wanted to spend more time babysitting his grandchildren and was looking forward to teaching them how to fish. He was looking forward to spending time at his home in Wildwood."

"Asked what James legacy would be, Spencer said, "His legacy will be what we feel will be a renaissance for Gloucester City. Looking ahead there is the development of the Mary Ethel Costello School property. Westrum is looking to build a Senior Care Center on the old Coast Guard baseball field. There is the Cyzner project at the old Chatham Square property. The cleanup of the toxic chemicals at Southport is nearing completion thanks to Bill.  And there is the Freedom Pier development which started back when Bob Bevan was mayor in the '80s. I would like to turn that over to a commercial realtor and see who they could attract to that site. A restaurant might not be the best use for that property. We will have to see. "

"I  want to publicly offer condolences and prayers on behalf of the citizens to the mayor's wife Ginny, children and grandchildren. Thank you for sharing your husband, father, and grandfather with our city for these many years. "

Former Gloucester City Police Lt. Joe Hargesheimer who worked with James said, "I am shocked and saddened to learn of the sudden passing of  Mayor Bill James. My wife and family offer our thoughts and prayers to his wife Ginny and the entire family. It is no stretch of the truth when I say, that Mayor James did more to protect the history of the City than any mayor before him. This is also a personal loss for me. I worked with Bill for many years. This is a devastating loss for the City of Gloucester, a life of service well lived and a good man gone way too soon!"

Wil Levins, president of the Gloucester City Democratic Club said, "It is with great sadness that we mourn the passing of Mayor William James. Bill’s leadership, dedication, and fellowship in working tirelessly to improve our community for the benefit of all the citizens of Gloucester City will be sorely missed. The members of the Gloucester City Democrat Club extend our most heartfelt sympathies to The James Family in this moment of tremendous loss."

"It's actually hard to believe that he is gone," said Brooklawn Mayor Teri Branella. "He looked well at the recent Gloucester City reorganization meeting. My heart hurts for his family. I can't begin to imagine their pain. Very sad. I found him to always be a gentleman, a role model to many and a true public servant. I will miss seeing him around."

Gloucester City Police Department released the following statement this afternoon regarding the sudden death of Mayor William P. James. The mayor served on the City police department for 25 years retiring in 2005. More information will be posted here as it comes available. 

"It is with deep regret that the Gloucester City Police Department announces the passing of Deputy Chief William James (Retired). Deputy Chief James served with honor and distinction from August of 1979 until his retirement in December of 2004. He rose through the ranks from Patrolman, Detective, Sergeant, Lieutenant, and ultimately to Deputy Chief. He continued his service to Gloucester City in his capacity as Mayor. He served three full terms (12 years) and was the longest serving Mayor in the history of Gloucester City. Our thoughts and prayers are with Virginia, Erin, Ian, Liam, Colin and Johanna."

Camden County Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli Jr. on behalf of the Freeholder Board released this statement about the passing of former Gloucester City Mayor William James.

 “The Freeholder Board would like to extend our sincere condolences to the James family. Bill was raised in Gloucester City and embodied his neighborhood and town with an undying passion to improve and enhance it. Whether it was on the beat as a police officer, or in the command staff later in his career, enhancing the quality of life for residents as a public servant was his number one goal. That same enthusiasm for the city continued when he served in elected office and became mayor of this historic hamlet. It is with profound sadness we say goodbye to this dedicated public servant who labored to improve the city and county through his tireless efforts. In short, he was a man of integrity and intelligence who cared deeply about South Jersey and will be missed by all.”  

Editor's Note: Funeral services are pending. When they are released they will be posted here.   


Former Gloucester City Mayor William James Dies Suddenly; Funeral Services Pending