The Logo of The Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta - Purple Crest with Bishop's Mitre

Obituary for Randolph S. James, Organist and Choirmaster

Aug 3, 2022

Obituary for
Randolph Sebastian James
June 16, 1961 – July 6, 2022

“Life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely, in a well-preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, holding a glass of champagne, totally worn out, shouting “Holy crap, what a ride!”

This is how Randolph Sebastian James lived much of his life, arriving peacefully at its end on July 6, 2022, in Tallahassee, FL.

Randolph was born June 16, 1961, in Washington, NC, the only child of Bobby and Loretta Turner James. He first heard an organ played in church at age two, and was playing it by age four. He began his career in church music at the age of 12 as Organist and Choirmaster in the church where his father served as Senior Minister.

Randolph discovered the Episcopal Church in high school and has been an Organist and Director of Music in the Church since 1979. He served as Organist and Master of the Choirs at Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Birmingham, Alabama, 1979 – 1983; Church of the Holy Comforter, Tallahassee, Florida, 1983 – 1988; Saint Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church, Atlanta, Georgia, 1989 – 2000; All Saints Church (Interim), Worcester, Massachusetts, 2000 – 2002; Grace Episcopal Church (Interim), Newton Corner, Massachusetts, 2002 – 2003; Saint Barnabas Episcopal Church, Falmouth, Massachusetts, 2003-2011; and at Episcopal Church of the Ascension, Cartersville, Georgia, 2012-2018. He served most recently as Organist at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Quincy, Florida.

A force of nature, Randolph masterfully built the skills and repertoire of (mostly) volunteer choirs that flourished under his leadership. His mastery of integrating music and worship led to transcendent experiences of God while his temperament, humor, irreverence, and generous heart generated a devoted choir family everywhere he served.

In 1993, Randolph met Gordon Ganter in Atlanta. They committed themselves to one another among family and friends on Nov. 3, 1995, and later married in Concord, MA on August 17, 2004. Gordon’s extraordinary gifts of hospitality expanded the beauty and joy of choir family and church community.

Randolph was preceded in death by his mother Loretta; and his husband Gordon and their three exceptional standard poodles: Sebastian, Johann, and Widor. He is survived by his parents Bob and Carol James and sisters Freela Hudson and Jennifer Kirk. He is also survived by a multitude of friends, gathered along the way, who are, in turn, devoted friends of one another.

More than 50 choristers from Randolph’s choir families will lead in singing him heavenward at a Celebration of Life with Holy Eucharist on Saturday, August 6 at 1:00 pm at the Church of the Ascension in Cartersville, GA. The committal of ashes–both Randolph and Gordon’s–will follow outside in the memorial garden. A festive reception will be held in the parish hall where laughter and tears will flow and all will raise a glass, so glad to have been along for the ride with Randolph Sebastian James.

The service will be live-streamed on Ascension’s Facebook page HERE and later archived on their YouTube channel HERE.

Memorial gifts can be made online HERE or sent to The Church of the Ascension at 2015 W. Cherokee Avenue, Cartersville GA 30120. Gifts in memory of Randolph may also be sent to any of the music programs where he served.

The links referenced above are:
Ascension’s Facebook page for live-streaming of the service:

Ascension’s YouTube page for watching the service at a later time:

A link for online memorial gifts to Ascension: