Saturday was a day of surprises for 89-year-old James M. Faison Jr. Not only was he honored by the city of Clinton and the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, all three of his sons, one whom he had not seen in six years, were present for a day set aside to honor him.
Faison had told his family all he wanted was to see all his family together again, so with that directive, his family set out to do just that. Saturday his wish came true. Only his daughter Treva Faison of Fayetteville was unable to attend because she underwent surgery on Friday. His sons, Douglas Faison, Waverly Faison and Darryl Keith Faison were present.
The elder Faison cried when he saw all three of his sons. Douglas and his wife live in Salisbury; Waverly lives in Scranton, N.Y.; and Keith lives in New York City.
Faison and his wife of 71 years, Freida Minnie Ashford Faison, both reside at Mary Gran Nursing Center. Freida was not able to attend due to health issues.
The ceremony was held in the fellowship hall of First Baptist Church, 900 College St., Clinton and attended by family and a small group of friends.
Keith Faison shared that one of his fondest memories regarding his dad was when he was just a young boy.
“I remember being home one day and up drove this big old black bus. My daddy and my grand father had been to pick it up. Daddy used that bus to take young people out to the farms during the summer to work in the tobacco fields to keep them out of trouble and let them earn some money. They called the bus ‘Black Beauty’” remarked Keith.
Douglas Faison, the oldest, shared that he had a great deal of respect for his father and the hard work that he always exemplified.
“My dad was always a hard worker. He helped his family in good times and bad times. Dad was always there for others as well. Education was his love and something he stressed,” expressed the eldest son.
The church’s pastor, the Rev. Thomas Farrow Jr. began the program with prayer and blessing for the food. Faison daughter-in-law, Manualynn Faison, served as the mistress of ceremony and was heavily involved in the planning of the event.
During the ceremony, Dr. Rodney Sessoms presented Faison the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Award for helping to organize the fraternity at Fayetteville State University here in Clinton. Faison was surprised to be so recognized and was even more honored to have had the City of Clinton proclaim Oct. 20, 2012 as James M. Faison Jr. Day.
Health issues prevented Faison from sharing too much about his past but he did express his surprise and appreciation for the special day.
Faison did share that his favorite scripture was Romans 8:28 which reads: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.” (KJV). He also stated that he was so glad to still be around to experience this day…especially having his sons all there.
James Faison was recognized for the many years of service he has given to the town and Sampson County. According to his family, Faison placed a very high value on education. And because he saw education as a means of securing success and freedom for all who would get an education, he was very instrumental in ensuring others achieved their educational goals.
Following his service as a truck driver for the 324 Quartersmasters Truck Company in the Pacific during World War II, where his responsibilities including collecting the bodies of fallen soldiers to ensure they were returned home for proper burial, Faison enrolled in Fayetteville State University and received his degree and began his career in education.
Waverly Faison explained that his dad was very concerned that people received a good education, and his love of teaching helped others from Wake County, Cumberland County and finally Sampson County, where he taught math and science at Sampson High School and eventually would serve as principal and assistant principal at Sampson Middle School. He served in the education field for 30 years.
“It did not matter who you were or what color you were, my daddy was there to help anyone in need. He helped people make progress and he tried to instill in them not to use obstacles as excuses. He has helped Sampson County to be a better place,” remarked Waverly.
Faison was also a member of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars, as well as a founding member of the undergrads chapter of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity at FSU. He did his gratuate studies at New York University and was a founding member of the Kappa Rio graduate chapter in Clinton. He has received nominations for Omega Man Of The Year and Parent of the Year, served as a member of the Deacon Board at First Baptist Church, taught Sunday School for 40 years and was a NEA advisor. Faison is also a member of the NAACP of Sampson County.
Among the honors that Faison received Saturday, one was especially precious to him. His daughter-in-law, had made him a Memory Jug.
Manualynn stated, “A Memory Jug is an embedded family tree (genealogy) a handmade heirloom. Memory Jugs originated in African, Bakonga, lower Zaire. The jugs were used to decorate graves and help the dead in their journey to the afterlife. You can view memory jugs dating back to 1933 at the Smithsonian.”
The Memory Jug was made from an old-fashion churn which was used to make butter.
Following the meal, a recognition ceremony entitled “Give me my flowers while I live” was observed. A flower was given to each family member as a token of their love and appreciation for Faison and his life and works.