James Howard Oakley III was born in Carlisle Pennsylvania on May 12th 1950 to the parents of James and Gertrude Oakley II. In 1962 his family moved from Valvosta, Georgia to Rancho Cordova, CA. The Oakley family was one of the first black families who lived in the Rancho Cordova area.
James joined and served in the Boy Scouts for many years where he also received the highest award of Eagle Scout. In 1969 he graduated from Cordova High School. James was an all-around athlete who excelled at many sports; however, his heart was in track and field. In his senior year he ran the 110 high hurdles at the Golden West Invitational Track meet. He had a great love for football too and if if you were to ask James who his favorite football team was, he would proudly say “the Oakland Raiders, I’m a Raider Fan”.
Upon graduation he was drafted into the Armed Forces and had to relinquish his track scholarship to San Jose State University. James honorably served in the Air Force for 20 years. He visited many countries throughout his career and was stationed or given a Temporary Duty (TDY) assignment in Athens, Greece; Seoul, Korea; and Hawaii. Other bases where he served were Mildenhall AFB in England, Cannon AFB in New Mexico; Edwards AFB in Southern, California; and Beale AFB in Yuba County.
During his time of service James played and coached in a semi-pro football league. He also served as a track coach at Desert High School located on Edwards AFB where many of the student he coached went on to compete and place in the CIF Tournament. A few years after he retired from Beale AFB in 1989, James served in the United States Postal Service for 25 years. He would later be voted by his peers to hold the position of Shop Steward at the Royal Oaks postal office. James was voted to serve as 2nd Vice President of the postal union. A co-worker of his stated that “He represented and informed letter carriers of their contract. Union and non-union members alike were greatly impacted by the amount of tireless hours he dedicated to grievance matters and advocating for their union rights.
As one of the union stewards he also played a vital part in the annual food drive which feeds countless amounts of families through the local Sacramento Food Bank, and other community events.
James Oakley was a loving husband, father, grandfather, uncle, brother, nephew, and friend. He stood for integrity, and was a very caring and compassionate man. James loved his family, his church family, and dearest friends.
In 1978 James married Pamela Morrison. To this union they were blessed with two daughters Nadine and Marsha. James later married Sarah Varnardo Watson. He accepted the Lord Jesus Christ at a young age at Shiloh Baptist Church in Sacramento, CA. For over the last decade he loved and served faithfully as a Deacon at Macedonia Baptist Church.
He is survived by his loving wife Sarah Watson-Oakley, daughters Nadine Oakley (children Azariah “Az-ar-riah”, Jasaeyah “Jas-say-yah”, and Jataexiane “Ja-tay-john-nae”) of Rancho Cordova; Marsha (Rodney) Robinson (children Nigel, Natalie and Nyah “ni-ya”)of Rancho Cordova; Brother, Larry (Leslie) Oakley (sons, Erik Verdolivo, Lawrence and Julian Oakley) from Rancho Cordova; Sister, Linda Oakley from Madison, Wisconsin, and a host of aunts, uncles, extended family, church family and dear friends.