Wednesday, December 27, 2006

RIP James "Chef Ra" Wilson, Jr.

James "Chef Ra" Wilson, Jr.
1950 - 2006

A fixture of Champaign-Urbana has passed away. Read more about Chef Ra from the WEFT website, a Buzz article, and from High Times Magazine editor, Steven Hager.
Also, a YouTube video featuring Chef Ra with the High Times staff in 1999.

May he rest in peace.

UPDATE: The following information was listed on WEFT's website:

Thursday 12/28
Come down to WEFT 90.1FM from 8-10pm and share your stories and memories live on the air for a tribute to Chef Ra. Or tune in and call.

Friday 12/29
The visitation for Ra will be held from 4-7pm at Renner Wikoff Chapel, 1900 Philo Road, Urbana, just south of Colorado Ave., east side of Philo Rd.

Saturday 12/30
The funeral will be held at 2pm, at the Wesley United Methodist Church, 1203 W. Green St (Green & Goodwin) Urbana

The following is his obituary, as published in the News-Gazette:

URBANA – James C. Wilson Jr., 56, a local radio personality, writer and former star athlete at Urbana High School, passed away on Dec. 26, 2006, at his home in Urbana.

Funeral services will be at Wesley United Methodist Church on Saturday, Dec. 30, 2006, at 2 p.m. Dr. Howard L. White will officiate. Visitation will be 4 to 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 29, 2006, at Renner-Wikoff Chapel and Crematory, 1900 S. Philo Road, Urbana.

Jim was born Oct. 10, 1950, in Charleston, W.V. His father, James C. Wilson Sr., was an accomplished college athlete, who was an assistant track coach at the University of Illinois when he died in 1967. His mother, Winnie R. Wilson, a teacher and administrator in the Champaign Public School system for many years, retired in 1996 and resides in Urbana.

Other survivors include Jim's sister, Karen Wilson, a lawyer in the U.S. Deptartment of Justice in Washington D.C.; and nephew, Campbell James, 8.

Jim starred in track and football at Urbana High School, from which he graduated in 1969. He competed in the state meet as a high jumper and for many years held Urbana High's record in the event. He was elected president of his senior class, and then went on to earn a degree from the University of Illinois College of Communications.

Jim, who often spoke fondly of having attended the 1969 Woodstock Music Festival in upstate New York, was a fixture in the local music community. His pioneering "Roots Rock, and Reggae radio program, which aired for 25 years on WEFT 90.1 FM, was one of the first programs in the nation to play tribute to reggae music. The station planned a tribute to Jim on Thursday, Dec. 28, 2006, from 8 to 10 p.m. when the program usually aired. For many years, Jim also wrote a regular column under the pseudonym "Chef Ra" for High Times magazine.

He will be remembered for the loving support he gave his mother in recent years and for his devotion to his sister and nephew. He will be sorely missed by his hundreds of friends in the local community.

The family asks that memorials be made to the Wesley Foundation, 1203 Green St., Urbana IL 61801.

Please feel free to share your memories and kind words for Chef Ra in the comments.


At 3:09 PM, December 28, 2006, Blogger Gamera said...

I used to work at the Embassy about a decade ago and he would drive limos for weddings and such at Jumer's at the time.

He would stop in the Embassy all dressed up in a tuxedo with his long dreds hanging out of a shiny little black hat.

He was always interesting to talk to and listen to. He will be mised....

At 2:03 PM, January 11, 2007, Blogger Don Gerard said...

Last time I had occasion to talk with him at length I was in the back of his cab on my way to a funeral. He was funny, empathetic, inspirational and comforting all in the span of a short ride across town.

Ra was an indelible mark on the local cultural landscape. He will be missed, but not soon forgotten.


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