Tuesday, April 23, 2013

In Fond Memory of Greg James

Greg James spent the past 25 years working in different capacities at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.  Early today, the news came that he had passed away very suddenly.  As an historic interpreter, his dedicated years of research and amazing talent for acting literally brought to life many of the oft-forgotten people of the past.  His clear, resounding voice could be heard daily around town, singing from one end of the historic area to the other. For many years, my family and I enjoyed visiting with Greg on the streets of CW, and he has since become a dear colleague and a very special co-worker. He always had a smile, a “hello,” and a song to share.  His incredible spirit will live on in the hearts of all who had the pleasure of encountering him. He will be immensely and sorely missed.

Here is a link to a video of Greg, as Wil, on the 4th of July, 2011, just as the "Decoration of Appendix" was about to be read: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0orJGpAizUA

And another video of Greg singing on the steps of Raleigh Tavern, 24 June 2011: 

Below are just a few of the many memories I have of Greg over the past few years, just a small representation of the multitude of roles he originated, and for which he will be very fondly remembered.

Greg James
Greg as a servant of Governor Dunmore
Colonial Williamsburg, 24 May 2007

Charlton's Coffeehouse
Greg, as Wil, at Charlton's Coffeehouse
Colonial Williamsburg, 25 June 2010

Colonial Williamsburg
Greg, as Wil, singing and working on the steps of Raleigh Tavern
Colonial Williamsburg, 24 June 2011


Mr. Riggenbach said...

I can't believe it! He was out on the street two weeks ago, today! It will be very odd to not see him there. My prayers go out to his family.

Karen (the Mrs.)

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your kind words at the passing of our very dear friend, Greg James. He was the very best goodwill ambassador CW could ever have!

Laurie P.

Anonymous said...

I believe Greg portrayed Wentworth at the coffeehouse :)

Tami said...

How interesting! I have that same video clip taken the very same day on youtube. I must have been sitting to your right when filming it! I will miss Greg so VERY much! He meant a lot to us, and to our youngest son. From the time our boy was about 10 years old, any time we were there with him, Greg (as "Wil")would get Cody to back him up whenever he was out on the street working up mischief among the audience members. "Tell 'em, Cody! Tell 'em that Wil ain't lyin' to 'em!" and stuff like that. Cody always played along, even up into his mid-teens. And whenever we were there without Cody, Greg would ask after him and tell us to give him his regards. What a wonderful, amazing man. We are all very sad today.

Anonymous said...

Greg will be greatly missed. We always looked forward to seing him. He was always inspirational, and knowledgable. He often had to put forth quite an effort to engage some of the young people, and always did it joyfully. Williamsburg has lost a great treasure !
Dan R.

Ashley said...

Thank you all for sharing your thoughts and stories about Greg. It is so wonderful to see all of the photos and videos of Greg and to read how he touched so many lives.

Tami: I saw your video earlier and noticed they were from the same day, too!

Christine Hansley - Tinley Park, IL said...

Our condolences to Greg's family and to CW. He will be greatly missed. He was always ready to help people find their way around CW. His singing will be missed the most. Back in 2009 he was out back of the Raleigh Tavern as the last person to see on the program. He said what he had to say and started singing Amazing Grace. I started crying (uncontrollably) and he continued singing, but came over to me and put his arm around me. When he finished, and people left, I told him that in three weeks it was going to be 27 years since the passing of my Mother and that Amazing Grace had been her favorite hymn. And with that he gave me hug and said he would remember to say a prayer that day. I truly believe he did. Like John Lowe aka Mr. Shields, who I believe is still watching over the tavern, Greg/Wil's, presence will still be creating mischief on the streets of CW. May this wonderful man Rest In Peace.

Anonymous said...

I just got back from a trip to Williamsburg to attend his funeral. He was a very special person and a dear friend. He touched the lives of many people and we are blessed to have known him. I miss him.


David Howard, St. Paul, MN said...

I JUST learned today of Gregory James' passing and I am SO incredibly sad. I have taken my Minnesota students to Colonial Williamsburg numerous times and have always set them the task of finding and speaking to "Wil" ("One W, one I, and one L"). We were there only a month before he left us and, as always, my student found him. To my great delight, this year he spent a remarkable 40 minutes with my group telling his story, breaking our hearts, and filling them with hope and a challenge to "love each other."

I thanked him afterward (with tears in my eyes) for the love and inspiration he was obviously pouring into my students that day. Who would have known he would be gone so soon after that.

While Mr. James did not know me, I considered him a dear friend and brother. We will miss him greatly.

Anonymous said...

I will miss you Will! You will never be forgotten!!!s excited to see Will. I have a purple Colinial dress I always wear to colonial Williamsburg. Will always called me "Penelope" and my brother "Fred". WE are so sad to see him go. I know he is with Jesus in heaven. :)Colonial Williamsburg will never be the same without Will. he always would sing songs to us like amazing grace,on the ocean, and mother on that rock ect. he helped our family through the death of my great grandfather in 2011. I Will miss hearing him sing, he was such a nice Christian man! I MISS YOU WILL!!! -"Penelope"