James McKendree Wall, 92, a longtime resident of Elmhurst, Illinois, passed away Monday, March 22, 2021.
He was born on Oct. 27, 1928, in Monroe to Louie David Wall and Lida Day Wall. After graduating high school, he enrolled at Georgia Tech and became a sportswriter for The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution. He graduated from Emory University with a degree in journalism, just before the Korean Conflict. He enrolled in the United States Air Force and served in Alaska Command. He received his Master of Divinity from Emory University and an Master of Arts from the University of Chicago. He was ordained a minister in the United Methodist Church in 1955. He traveled to the Middle East more than 20 times, which influenced his many years of writing about the injustice to which the Palestinians were being subjected.
He edited the United Methodists’ Christian Advocate from 1962-1972. Subsequently, he served as editor and publisher of The Christian Century in Chicago from 1972 through February 1999. The Century was considered the flagship magazine of U.S. mainline Protestantism. From 1999 through 2008, he wrote a column for the Christian Century, while serving as senior contributing editor. He was a contributing editor from 2008 until July 2017.
Wall served as a member of a Bioethics Policy Task Force for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration from 1994 through early 1996. He also served on a special committee of the National Academy of Science that, at the request of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, monitored dose reconstruction studies at nuclear weapons processing sites. He was a member of the Program Review Committee for Battelle Memorial Institute, which monitored a program that identified a permanent location for the nation’s high-level nuclear waste disposal site, and was a member of a special committee of the National Academy of Science that produced a 1988 report on the use of animals in biomedical research.
He was active in the Democratic Party, serving in a variety of roles. Wall was chair of the Jimmy Carter presidential primary and general election campaigns in Illinois in 1976 and 1980 and a delegate for Carter at the 1976 and 1980 Democratic National Conventions. He served a term on the Democratic National Committee and was an unsuccessful candidate for the House of Representatives in 1972. Also, that year, Wall was an organizer and chair of George McGovern’s Illinois delegates to the Democratic National Convention.
In 1983-84, Wall took a six-month leave from the Christian Century to manage Rep. Paul Simon’s successful primary campaign for a U.S. Senate seat from Illinois.
He was the beloved husband of Mary Eleanor Wall since 1953; father of David McKendree (Robin) Wall, Robert Kidder (Renae) Wall and Richard James Wall; grandfather of Rachel Micelle (Jesse) Welliver, Adam McKendree (Kimmie) Wall, Melissa Grace Wall and Mariah (Carlen) Cyphers; great-grandfather of Norah Ruth Welliver, Lydia Noelle Welliver, Clara Eden Welliver and Chance McKendree Wall and brother of Louie D. Wall Jr. and Hughes Wall.
A visitation will be held from 1-5 p.m. CDT Thursday, April 1, at Elmhurst Community Funeral Home – THE AHLGRIM CHAPEL, 567 S. Spring Road, Elmhurst, IL 60126.
A memorial service will be held at a future date at First United Methodist Church of Elmhurst.
Interment will be private.
Memorial contributions in his name may be made to Seraj Library Project, 636 N. Harvey Ave., Oak Park, IL 60302; First United Methodist Church of Elmhurst, 232 S. York Road, Elmhurst, IL 60126; or the DuPage Foundation, 3000 Woodcreek Drive Suite 310, Downers Grove, IL 60515-5408.
For additional information: 630-834-3515 or www.ElmhurstFH.com.