James Myers, former director of stewardship, dies at 81

COLUMBIA—James T. Myers, former director of the Office of Stewardship for the Diocese of Charleston, died Feb. 8. He was 81.

A rosary will be held Feb. 10 at 5 p.m. with visitation following at St. Joseph Church, 3600 Devine St. The Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. Joseph on Feb. 11 with burial at Mepkin Abbey in Moncks Corner.

Myers was born in New Orleans, La., on Nov. 24, 1936, the youngest of four children of Buford MacMartin Myers and Elma Verlander Townsend Myers.

Educated in private schools in New Orleans, Myers graduated from the Metairie Park Country Day school in 1954. He joined the U.S. Air Force and was sent to the Yale University Institute of Far Eastern Languages to study Mandarin Chinese. Following his completion of the program, he was assigned to the National Security Agency.

James Myers

From there, Myers was ordered to Asia, where he served in the U.S. Air Force Security Service. After his discharge from the Air Force, Myers earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Far East Area Studies from the University of Washington in Seattle. He received a Ph.D in political science at George Washington Institute for Sino-Soviet Studies, with an emphasis on modern Chinese politics, under the direction of Professor Franz Michael.

Myers then taught Chinese politics and American government at the University of South Carolina for more than 30 years, retiring as a distinguished professor. He was the founding director of the University’s Center for Asian Studies and created a multimedia program called “Conversations in American Government” that brought political figures to the classroom by way of television. He interviewed Presidents Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan plus many prominent members of Congress, journalists, federal judges, governors, and more. The project resulted in a college textbook in American government, “The American Way”.

Myers was the author, editor, or co-editor of 14 books plus many book chapters and academic journal articles principally in the field of modern Chinese politics, including “Enemies Without Guns: The Catholic Church in the People’s Republic of China.” He received a Mortar Board Teacher of the Year award and, as a faculty member, was initiated into the undergraduate honor society Omicron Delta Kappa.

As Myers was preparing for retirement, Bishop Robert J. Baker appointed him director of the Diocesan Office of Stewardship and to the bishop’s Curia. In 2001, he was invested as a Knight in the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. At the time of his death, Myers held the rank of Knight Grand Cross and was honored by the order for his exceptional work as newsletter editor, receiving the rarely awarded Silver Palm of Jerusalem medal.

In 2007, he was awarded the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice by Pope Benedict XVI for his work in stewardship. Myers was a convert to the Church and was a member of St. Joseph, where he served as an extraordinary minister of holy Communion. He also was a member of the Flamenco Club, the Camellia Ball, and the Forest Lake Club.

Myers was predeceased by his first wife, Florence Bacher “Betty” Myers, who was the mother of his two oldest children. He is survived by his wife of 35 years, Christina Hoefer Myers, and by his children: Townsend MacMartin Myers and his wife Peggy; Amy Elizabeth Myers and her husband Xavier Garcia; Aidan Myers Hatch and her husband Michael; and Christian Hoefer Myers; plus grandchildren Sarah and Emma Myers and August Hatch; and his sister, Dorothy Elma Myers Drackett

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to St. Joseph Church, 3600 Devine St., Columbia, SC 29205.