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Published: Sunday, 8/22/2004

Three-time tractor-pulling champ was lifetime farmer, world traveler

ADA, Ohio - William E. James, a lifetime farmer who was a three-time world tractor-pulling champion, died of cancer Friday on his farm here. He was 83.

"He was very competitive, sports-oriented, and very energetic. He played hard and worked hard," his son, Bill James II, said.

Mr. James, whose passion in life was tractor pulling, won three world tractor-pulling championships in the mid 1950s and late 1960s.

He passed that hobby on to his grandchildren, who are involved in the National Kiddie Tractor Pullers Association, Bill James II said.

Mr. James, an Ada native, started farming when he was 10 at the family farm just east of Ada. He graduated from Ada High School about 1939, his son said, where he played basketball.

He continued farming, raising crops and livestock.

Soon after the start of World War II, Mr. James enlisted in the Army.

He was stationed in the United States until the war ended, after which he came back to the family farm. He was active as a farmer until this spring, when his cancer got worse, his son said.

In retirement, Mr. James enjoyed spending time with his family and traveling. He had visited the Middle East, Europe, Russia, and the Far East.

Mr. James was a lifetime member of the Sugar Grove United Methodist Church, Ada, where he was Sunday school superintendent and church treasurer.

His other memberships included the Liberty Grange and the Ada Farmers & Merchants Picnic Board, where he was past president.

Surviving are his wife of 60 years, Julie; son, Bill James II; daughters, Kathy Burris and Cotta Daniels; sisters, Mildred James Moore and Violet Bond; six grandchildren, and a great-grandson.

Services will be held at 1:30 p.m. tomorrow in Hanson-Neely Funeral Home, Ada, where visitation will resume at 6 p.m.

The family suggests tributes to Sugar Grove United Methodist Church Building Fund or Hardin County Hospice of Kenton, Ohio.

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