In James C. Wynne Jr., Tyler had a patriarch, a successful businessman and a visionary who did all he could to better his community.
Raised in Tyler, Wynne attended public school and graduated from Tyler High School.
He earned an engineering degree from The University of Texas and served in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War.
Upon discharge, he started his career in homebuilding and land development and his service to the Tyler community followed.
Just a few years into his career he was selected as a director for the Peoples National Bank and continued to serve on the board when it became InterFirst Bank.
Whit Riter, whose father was president and CEO of the bank at the time, said Wynne was on the board when they decided to build the Plaza Building next to the original People’s National Bank downtown.
“Those men who worked with my father on that bank board were just visionaries,” Riter said. “And they were visionaries not just for the bank, but they were visionaries for the community.”
During his lifetime, Wynne served as president of the Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce, chairman of the Long Range Planning Committee and a member of the chamber’s board of directors.
He was a president and director of the Medical Center Hospital (now East Texas Medical Center Tyler), a president of the Willow Brook Country Club, Texas Rose Festival Association, Order of the Rose, Stewart Blood Bank and the Tyler Industrial Foundation, according to Tyler Morning Telegraph archives.
His service to the community was honored when he was selected as the 1983 recipient of the T.B. Butler Award presented each year at the Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce Banquet to the outstanding citizen.
In receiving the award, Wynne thanked the Butler family and all involved in presenting it. He also thanked his “friends and those people who helped me do all those things I’m supposed to do a good job at.”
Behind-the-scenes, he acquired tracts of land in the industrial park and passed them to the Industrial Foundation at cost without compensation for his time, according to newspaper archives.
That enabled the foundation to make larger industrial sites available to industries considering Tyler. Mullins said Wynne had a hand in bringing the companies that became Carrier, Trane and Goodyear to Tyler.
“So he had a huge impact on the growth and development of this city,” Mullins said.
His connection to ETMC spanned more than 40 years with his most recent roles being on the ETMC Regional Healthcare System board and the ETMC Foundation board.
“As a vital member of the ETMC Regional Healthcare System board of directors, Jimmy Wynne helped guide our system through continued evolutions in health care,” President/CEO Elmer G. Ellis said in an emailed statement. “He brought wisdom and enthusiasm to ETMC’s growth, but most importantly, he maintained a deep sense of compassion for the people we serve. His spirit of service will be long remembered at ETMC.”
“He wasn’t just a cheerleader,” Mullins said. “This guy rolled his sleeves up and got in there and made a difference.”
He was part of the group that helped put together the Tyler Economic Development Council. And as a board member, he understood his role was to support the organization and direct policy, Mullins said. He did not micromanage.
His life, though, involved more than work and board positions. He prioritized family and faith as well.
He and his wife, Bitsy, had five children and were active members of Christ Episcopal Church and involved with All Saints Episcopal School, something his family members carry on, Riter said.
In 1991, he received All Saints’ Flame of Excellence award, given to those “whose vision of life incorporates the guiding lights of both reason and faith and whose actions exemplify a passion for excellence inspired by love of God and fellow man,” according to information from the school.
“He was a great individual who loved the community and just gave to the community,” Riter said. “He’s one of those old patriarchs that this community is going to miss.”