James Mayfield Wootton

Published 2:16 pm Thursday, August 25, 2016

James Mayfield Wootton, of Dillwyn, departed this mortal coil on August 22, 2016, to be with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Born March 16, 1949, in Mobile, Ala., Jim was the son of United States Air Force Brigadier General Bernard Mayfield Wootton and Lillie Frances Harris Wootton, who served the nation in the Army Air Corps at Hickam Field, Hawaii, during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Jim graduated from the University of Virginia and the University of Virginia Law School. He practiced law in Charlottesville for a time before relocating to Washington, D.C., where he served in a number of consequential positions in the Justice Department of the Reagan administration. While at Justice, Jim formed the Center for Missing and Exploited Children. 

Following a distinguished career in government service, Jim founded the Safe Streets Alliance, an organization dedicated to the passage of truth-in-sentencing laws in all 50 states designed to make America safer by insuring that habitual criminals serve the majority of sentences imposed on them.  In addition to many other public policy organizations, Jim Wootton served as the President of Institute of Legal Reform, an activity of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to strengthen the rule of law. 

Email newsletter signup

After leaving the Chamber, Jim was a partner in the Washington office of Mayer Brown LLP, a national law firm and later, was to dedicate his efforts to advancing legal reform with the creation of Nations Court, an initiative to expand legal reform internationally.

Most recently Jim focused on developing The Jesus Timeline™, a unique tool, to enable people of all ages to easily comprehend the Biblical view of creation, time and eternity, employing age appropriate media and techniques to integrate Biblical teaching with scientific evidence and human experience. A memorial foundation, The James Wootton Foundation, is being established to continue the work he began.

Jim’s faith in the Lord Jesus Christ strengthened him throughout his life.  As senior warden of the Falls Church Episcopal and an active member of the Men’s Ministry core leadership team, Jim contributed his time and talents in ways that made his church community a vibrant exemplar of the Body of Christ. During his difficult final days, his faith was a steadfast assurance of God’s promises of an eternal home in heaven with the Lord.  That same assurance is a divine comfort to Jim’s family and many beloved friends whose lives he touched through Godly counsel and loving kindness.

Jim, the beloved husband of Ellen Tucker Essert Wootton, loving father to his children by marriage, Douglas Robert McKelway and daughter-in-law, Kaely Joy Medd McKelway, and Eliza Tucker McKelway, and Christopher William McKelway, and grandfather to Finley James, Bowman Robert, and Ila Joy McKelway, all of whom he loved and cherished. Jim was preceded in death by his only sibling, Robert Lee Wootton Sr., who died August 19, 1990. He is also survived by his sister-in-law, Patricia Black Wootton; his nephew, Robert Lee Wootton Jr. and his wife, Robin Jester Wootton; and grand nieces and nephews, Abigail, Nathaniel, Naomi, and Miriam, and his niece, Carrie Wootton Bernstein, her husband, David Jason Bernstein, and grand nephew and niece, Micah and Noa.

A memorial service will be held for Jim at the Concord Baptist Church in Farmville on Saturday, Aug. 27, at 2 p.m. followed by a second service at the Fall’s Church Anglican Church, Saturday, Sept. 10.

Contributions can be made to the The James Wootton Foundation, c/o Richard D. Keeling, Trustee, 1745 Chopin Drive, Charlottesville, VA 22903. Absent from the body, present with the Lord.  II Corinthians 5:8.

Shorter Funeral Home, Farmville, is in charge of arrangements. www.shorterfuneralhome.com