James Herbert

August 29, 1940 ~ October 17, 2021 (age 81)


James Ira Herbert, age 81 of Kennesaw, passed October 17, 2021. Family will receive friends Friday, November 12, 2021 from 1-6 pm in The Chapel of Hanley-Shelton Funeral Home. Celebration of Life will be held Saturday, November 13, 2021 at 3:00 pm from The Chapel of Hanley-Shelton (Private Service).


***Please be advised that if you are attending the Viewing and/or Funeral Service a mask is required along with social distancing***


Dr. James Ira Herbert entered his eternal rest on Sunday, October 17, 2021. Formerly of Waterbury/Wolcott, Connecticut, James was a resident of Kennesaw, Georgia for the past 27 years. 

James was born in Saluda, South Carolina on August 29, 1940. At an early age, his parents, Missie Lou and George Herbert, (both deceased) migrated to Waterbury, Connecticut. He attended Slocum and Maloney Elementary Schools and  graduated from Leavenworth High School in 1958. As a varsity athlete who excelled in football and basketball; James, nicknamed “Bull” was a Connecticut high school all-state football star. He strived to be like his idol, Jim Brown, #32 on the NFL’s Cleveland Browns team. Bull won an athletic scholarship to Fayetteville State College (now known as Fayetteville State University). He graduated from  Fayetteville State with a B.S. degree in Education.  After graduation he joined the Peace Corps the very next day.  During that time, he had a chance to travel around the world and even spent 18 months in Ceylon (Sir Lanka), India. After his Peace Corps tour, he was drafted by the New York Giants minor league team. Unfortunately, he pulled a hamstring in one of their practice sessions, ending that career and leading him to pursue path in education. He jumped in with all feet, hands, and head. He fell in love with teaching and becoming a professor became a new dream for him. He continued his athletic passion by officiating for basketball, softball, baseball, and football games from Little League through high school for over 25 years. While teaching at Slocum, he coached the basketball team and  was able to lead them to the City Championship. They were the underdogs, and no one expected them to win, but James (now Coach Bull)  led them to victory!

Hence Herbert, (Uncle Hence)  was James’ mentor/father who in 1957 set the foundation for his education. Hence told him that he WILL go to college! James was in a technical program preparing to become a barber, but then switched to a college preparation program. James needed to make an ‘A’ in Math to graduate. He started to study and never stopped and was able to graduate on time. This was where his love of education began. Even though Hence always said you should not talk about money, religion, or politics, he and James talked about everything. Racism was James’ hate word. They often had heated conversations about politics and race relations. Hence had a relationship with all his nephews, but James truly felt like he was his son. 

James met Mary Elizabeth (Liz) Williamson in the canteen at Fayetteville State University. They were joined in Holy Matrimony on June 16, 1964 in Zebulon, North Carolina. This year, Herb (as his wife affectionately called him) and Liz celebrated 57 years of marriage. Throughout their marriage, they donated their time, talent, and money to various charities, schools and organizations that benefited children and education. In 1970, he co-founded with his wife, an education scholarship at Mount Olive AME Church in Waterbury, Connecticut that is still available today. 


After receiving his Master’s degree in Organizational Behavior from Yale, teaching and counseling students were Dr. Herbert’s pride and joy. He even had an “Amen-Counseling Corner”. He taught at Yale University for a year. After that year there were budget cuts and with the last hired, first fired rule, Herb’s position was eliminated. His boldness in interviews, sharing double standards for people of color resulted in jobless years.  He knew he needed a Plan B. He decided to further his education by obtaining a Master’s of Phil and Ph.D. from Yale University. Herb was a modest man who worked hard from his humble beginnings to earn his doctorate. If people called him Mr. Herbert, he would not correct them by saying Dr. Herbert even though he climbed many obstacles to earn his degree.  Although, he did enjoy when his friends referred to him as “Dr. Bull”.


 Later in life, he moved to Kennesaw, Georgia. Dr. Herbert was a Professor at Kennesaw State University’s Michael A. Leven School of Management, Entrepreneurship and Hospitality. He was always trying to improve the world through teaching. Dr. Herbert loved to incorporate puzzles into group dynamics and organizational skills with his classes, in addition to evaluating the latest movies to help make learning fun. He believed that everyone has a right to education regardless of their financial status. He retired in 2017 and was given the title Professor Emeritus. Dr. Herbert shamelessly dropped a bucket of tears at his retirement party because he loved his students.

James was not a jack of all trades, but he was a master of many. His hobbies included watching TV, reading, playing cards (especially poker), grilling meats, boating, fishing, water skiing, officiating sports, mentoring, and because of his background supporting others less fortunate. Many Christmas Eves, he would wear his Santa hat and give toys away in the parking lots of different stores and the Boys and Girls Club. 


James was an inspiration to his students, godchildren, foster children, and his nieces and nephews. They knew that education was a must. He would always ask: “How can I push you?”   He tried to show up for their graduations and he would roll a bill tightly and give it to them. After finding out about her uncle’s death,  a great niece shared her struggles to get her planned doctorate degree. “Uncle Herb was a mentor and I must get my doctorate degree to be Dr. Herbert like him”.


Although Dr. Herbert did not attend church every Sunday, he had a personal relationship with the Lord. When people asked “How are you doing?” He would always answer, “It’s a blessed day. Woke up this morning, walked, and talked!” On his 81st birthday, after talking with his siblings, he was happy and said that he and his siblings (Mil, 85; Dot, 76; Al, 73; and Sandi, 71) were favored by God just as the scripture Psalm 90:10 says. 

”The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.” KJV


Herb has some tasks to do when he gets to heaven:

Love on his mother

Tease his father-in-law

Tell Liz’s mother and aunts that she still does not know how to cook!

Clear up his theory about why Former Secretary of State, Colin Powell was not the first African American President by trying to pick his brain directly. He never believed the story told on the news.


James was preceded in death by his parents, a brother, two sisters, and many aunts and uncles. He leaves behind to cherish his memories, his devoted and loving wife of 57 years; Mary Elizabeth Herbert, four sisters; Mildred Herbert, Dorothy Whitaker, Sandra Moore, and Annie G. Corley, one brother; Alfred Herbert, one sister in-law; Jocelyn Harris (Deacon Robert), one brother in-law; James Williamson (Reverend Lula), and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of James, please visit our floral store.


November 12, 2021

1:00 PM to 6:00 PM
Hanley-Shelton Funeral Directors
473 Lawrence St NE
Marietta, GA 30060

Celebration of Life
November 13, 2021

3:00 PM
Hanley-Shelton Funeral Directors
473 Lawrence St NE
Marietta, GA 30060

Video is available for this event

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