James T. Edmonds, beloved husband and father and consummate gentleman, passed away unexpectedly on the 11th of May, 2014, at his home in Houston. Jim was born on the 10th of June, 1944, to James and Patricia Edmonds in Wichita, Kansas, and was reared in Los Alamos, New Mexico. He is preceded in death by his first wife, Kay, and his parents. Jim is survived by his wife, Annette Seidel Edmonds, and children, Andrew James Edmonds and Sarah Rose Edmonds. He is also survived by his brother Charles and family and numerous relatives in Kansas.
A proud member of the Church of Christ, Jim graduated from Abilene Christian University in 1966 with a degree in Government. Unsure what career path to take, Jim had the good fortune of attending college with the twin sons of newly elected Houston Mayor Louie Welch. One of them said, "Why don't you call our dad and work for him? He's Mayor of Houston." Jim went to see the Mayor, who offered him a job for $465 a month. "If I had known what I was getting into, it might have been different. But I was just a little ignorant kid from New Mexico who got stuck in a back office at City Hall, handed a city phone book, and told to answer citizen complaints. It was a grueling experience, but I sure learned a lot about city government," Jim explained. In all, he spent 10 years as Mayor Welch's Executive Assistant.
Only 18 months into that first job, Jim was offered an opportunity that further cemented the breadth of his civic knowledge and expertise in Texas. Texas Governor John Connally had been elected to his third and final two-year term. At the same time, Lyndon Johnson became President and much of Connally's key staff left for jobs in Washington, DC. "So the Governor was down here one day lamenting to Mayor Welch that all these guys were leaving him and that he needed some help. The Mayor said, 'I have this kid on my staff and that's all the help I can give you,'" Jim remembered.
Still wet behind the ears, Jim went to Austin to serve as Administrative Assistant to the Governor for just over a year. He handled Connally's itinerary, travel, letters and executive clemency. Jim returned to Mayor Welch's office, ran his reelection campaigns, and then followed him to the Houston Chamber of Commerce when Welch left office.
The private sector soon sought him out for his extensive experience and contacts. Jim became a consulting principal with KPMG-Peat Marwick and was a founding partner of the investment banking firm of Masterson, Moreland, Sauer & Whisman, Inc. (now First Southwest Company) before becoming President of Edmonds & Company, a business consulting firm.
Throughout his life, Jim was devoted to public service and understood the public sector better than most. He was first appointed to the Port Commission of the Port of Houston Authority in October 1996, representing Harris County. In June 2000, he was appointed Chairman of the Port Commission jointly by Houston City Council and Harris County Commissioners Court. He served as Chairman through 2012.
He oversaw a time of tremendous growth at one of the nation's busiest ports. His leadership and vision positioned the Port to manage what was forecasted and became unprecedented cargo demand for the Texas Gulf Coast and the Houston region. He led the Port Authority's strategy for obtaining a permit to build the Bayport Container and Cruise Terminal, which will ultimately triple the Port's container cargo handling capacity. The new facility allows the Port to capitalize on the expansion of the Panama Canal and increasing trade with Asia.
Jim increased communication between the Port and its many stakeholders. Daily he attended to Port business, spoke to groups large and small, and told anyone he come in contact with about the Port's importance to regional economic development and prosperity. He was a great communicator, always honest and straight-forward. He raised the Port's profile through an instructive advertising campaign that reminded everyone that almost everything in a home or office arrived on a ship at the Port of Houston. He traveled throughout the world promoting business with the Port of Houston.
Jim served on many boards of the Memorial Hermann Health System for 26 years, committing countless hours to its mission and goals. He was chairman of the Hospital System Board in 2007-2008. Jim's quiet and steady leadership was invaluable. In addition, he was a member of the board and executive committee of the Greater Houston Partnership and served on the board of the Texas A&M University at Galveston, Space Center Houston, the San Jacinto River Authority and the I-69 Coalition. Jim received numerous awards, primarily related to his work with the Port of Houston.
Through his marriage to Annette, Jim received another of the many life-changing opportunities that he experienced. Becoming a father to Andrew and Sarah was something he deeply cherished. When he was named Father of the Year in 2010 by the organization Change Happens, he said, "Being a parent is a gift, and our life's greatest challenge. There's no greater reward than doing it well." Jim and Annette were two halves of the same whole and were rarely apart. There was no question as to the depth of their love and devotion to one another.
Honorary Pallbearers are Andrew J. Edmonds, Ned S. Holmes, Robert M. Collie, Jr., James R. Royer, Michael G. Bartolotta, Grover G. Jackson, Joe B. Allen, Clive Shkedy, M.D. and Ariel Velasco, M.D., many of whom are his bird hunting buddies of many years.
Friends are cordially invited to gather with the family and share remembrances of Jim from five o'clock in the afternoon until seven o'clock in the evening on Sunday, the 18th of May, in the grand foyer of Geo. H. Lewis & Sons, 1010 Bering Drive, 77057.
A memorial service is to be conducted at one o'clock in the afternoon on Monday, the 19th of May, at St. John Vianney Catholic Church, 625 Nottingham Oaks Trail in Houston. Immediately following, all are invited to greet the family in a reception to be held at the church.
In lieu of customary remembrances, memorial contributions may be directed to the "Edmonds Children's College Fund," c/o Prosperity Bank, Attention: Teller Line, 55 Waugh Drive, Ste. 100, Houston, TX 77007.