We are deeply sorry for your loss - the staff at Nelson Memorial Gardens, Inc.
James “Jim” Arthur Whitt
December 1, 1946 - November 15, 2021
James Arthur Whitt Sr. was born into this world on December 1st, 1946, to Chesley Whitt Jr. and
Sellia Barnes in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He accepted Christ at an early age, under the leadership
of his father Reverend Chesley Whitt Jr.; where he served faithfully as chairman of the trustee
board, before relocating to Southfield Michigan. As the chairman of the trustee board, James
was vital in building Good Hope Baptist Church, the first black church built by a black contractor
in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He grew up on Eliza Street with his six brothers Chesley Whitt III,
Roosevelt Bonner, Thomas Whitt, Rolland Whitt, Larry Whitt, Michael Whitt, and Daymond Whitt
and four sisters Mary Marshall, Wilma Moore, Kim Whitt Tanner, and Judy Gorman.
James graduated from Central high school where he was the quarterback, the starting point
guard for the basketball team, and he ran track, setting school records in each sport while
setting the standard in academics. He attended college at Indiana Tech, where he concentrated
on basketball averaging 27 points his senior year. He was named an All-American and would
later be entered into the Indiana Tech Hall of Fame. During his years at Indiana Tech, he was a
charter and life member of the Graduate chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Incorporated in
1969 with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry. He would later receive his master’s in business
administration and Management General in 1973 from Indiana University Fort Wayne.
After college James would go on to play for the Indiana Pacers ABA Rookie team until he
injured his foot. James would later be hired by General Electric as an Engineer. He would
continue his career at General Electric for the next 20-years developing several patents for the
company. In 1966 James married his first wife Anita Keen and to this union, three children were
born; Cherie Whitt, Michelle Whitt, and Jason Whitt.
By 1991 James was well into a rewarding career as CEO of TTI Newgen, one of the area's
fastest-growing companies in the late 1990s. In 2000, TTI Newgen ranked fifth on the St. Louis
Regional Technology Fast 50 marking the third time the company made the list. During this time
in 1991, James would meet his second wife, Annelle Whitt. They later went on to exchange
vows on August 15, 1992.
In 1993 they gave birth to their first child Marcus Isaiah Whitt. Shortly after in 1996 they gave
birth to their second child James Arthur Whitt Jr. They spent time living in St. Louis, Missouri
before moving to Columbia, Missouri in 2001. Over the next 20 years, James would help,
motivate, inspire and uplift the community of Columbia. His cPhase basketball association team
won 5th place in AAU Division 2 Nationals in 2004 and 2nd place in 2005. When elected to the
School Board in 2010, James’s tenacity for change came with him. He served as board vice
president from 2013 to 2015 and president from 2015 to 2017.
During his time on the Columbia School Board, he championed diverse hiring practices and
getting air conditioning in all district schools. He worked on several projects to push for equity
for students. One of his lasting legacies is the African American Heritage Trail. The trail has 22
historic markers that memorialize the history of the Black community in Columbia, including the
Sharp End. It’s currently part of a learning experience for eighth graders. Students walk the
two-mile trail while learning about influential figures and institutions that existed in Columbia.
He later became chairman of the Sharp End Heritage Committee in 2016, named for Columbia’s
iconic Black business district that was destroyed by urban renewal in the ‘60s. He then became
the director for the city’s Supplier Diversity Program. In that role, he spent much of his time
meeting with minority and women business owners.
James will not only be remembered as the pillar of his family but also for his generosity and
dedication to his myriad causes and people in his life. He was a mentor for many and a friend to
almost everyone he met. But most of all, he dedicated everything he did to loving his family and
the work he did in his community.
James Arthur Whitt Sr. transitioned from this life on November 15, 2021, in Columbia, Missouri,
surrounded by his loving wife and family. Proceeded in transition by his parents Chesley Whitt Jr
and Sellia Whitt and brothers, Chesley Whitt III, Roosevelt Bonner, and Daymond Whitt. Those
left to cherish many memories and to carry on his legacy are his wife Annelle Brenee Whitt,
three sons Jason Whitt (Katrice) of Fort Wayne, Indiana, Marcus Isaiah Whitt of Dallas, Texas,
James Arthur Whitt Jr of Cleveland, Ohio, three daughters Cherie Whitt of Florissant, Missouri,
Michelle Whitt of Rochester, New York, Terosie Whitt of Lake of the Ozark, Missouri, four
brothers Thomas (Lilli) Whitt of Rochester, New York, Rolland Whitt (Dorothy) of Fort Wayne,
Indiana, Larry Whitt of Fort Wayne, Indiana, Michael Whitt of Fort Wayne Indiana, four sisters
Mary Marshall of Fort Wayne Indiana, Wilma Moore of Fort Wayne Indiana, Kim Tanner of Fort
Wayne, Indiana, Judy Gorman of Fort Wayne Indiana, four grandchildren Graciela Tafoya,
Mersadez Highley, Daymond Whitt, Kamiah Whitt, five great-grandchildren and a host of nieces,
nephews, cousins, other relatives, and many friends
Donations in Lieu of Flowers
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to:
Sharp End Entrepreneurial Development Fund
Community Foundation of Central Missouri
P.O. Box 6015
Columbia, MO 65205-6015
Attn: John Baker, Executive Director of the Community Foundation