James Arthur Pitts

HARVEY, Mich. – James Arthur Pitts, age 80, of Chocolay Township, passed away Saturday, June 29, 2013, at his home.

James was born May 21, 1933 in McAlester, Oklahoma, the only child of James and Lula Mae (Poe) Pitts. It was during the Depression years and Lula Mae desired a better life for herself and her young son, so she headed for California in the hopes of pursuing a career in acting. In his younger years, she taught James to read and write and instilled in him a love of music. As they traveled, James was privileged to experience many things. While in Nevada, his mother worked at the Hoover Dam and, once in California, Lula Mae had many jobs before fulfilling her dreams. Lula Mae loved her son very deeply and as he grew, James took to playing the drums, becoming an accomplished drummer in his own right, having his own band and often performing in churches. While with his mother, James had the honor of knowing several movie stars, among them Sammy Davis Jr, Redd Fox of the Sanford and Son TV series, Mae West, and Frank Sinatra. His aunt, LaWanda Page, also starred as Aunt Esther in the Sanford and Son series, with Lula Mae making occasional cameo appearances on the show.

Survivors include his cousins, Adrian V. Abbott of Marquette, Gerald (Yokana) Handsbur of Tullare, CA, Ray (Kristi) Manthey of Lomira, WI, Andrew (Anne Cootware) Manthey of Marquette, Anthony Jones of Marquette, Derrick (Sarah Petrocik) Jones of Marquette, Danielle Jones of Kansas City, KS, Esther Holzendorf of Kansas City, MO, Donald Shoals of McAlester, OK, and many other cousins.

He was preceded in death by his parents.

Friends may call at the Swanson-Lundquist Funeral Home on Tuesday, July 9 from 2:00 p.m. until the time of service at 4:00 p.m. The Rev. Robert Blotter will officiate. A reception will follow in the funeral home’s reception area from 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. Pallbearers will be Ray Dale and Andrew Manthey, Anthony and Derick Jones, and Kurt Hewitt.

The Swanson-Lundquist Funeral Home is serving the family where condolences may be expressed online at swansonlundquistfuneralhome.com.