James Moses Whitley Jr. was born in Rochester, New York on April 29, 1934. He was one of five children, Gloria Flemming, Rosara Joyce Whitley (deceased), Twin William N. Whitley, Janice Carlstedt. Born to Moses James Whitley Sr. (Chemist) and Beatris N. Whitley (Teacher) who came to Cleveland from Warren, Ohio. James M. Whitley Jr. graduated from John Adams High School where he and his twin brother were standout athletes in football and track. They received football scholarships to Kent State University. The team was immortalized in 2015 as the "Team of Distinction 1954". They had a 9-1 record and went to the "Refrigerator Bowl". While at Kent State University James M. Whitley, William N. Whitley, Sydney Henderson and Joe Barbee started the Gamma Tau Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. which James M. Whitley would eventually become president. James M. Whitley Jr. was a member of the ROTC at Kent State University and graduated as an officer 1st Lieutenant. He earned a BA from Kent State University and a BA from Leicester University in England. James M. Whitley went on to serve as a Captain in the United States Air Force. He trained at Waco Air Force Base in Texas and in England.
In 1962, he married Stella M. Whitley, whom he met while both were students at Kent State University. This was a true "love story". The young couple have one son. Kent A. Whitley (Advocacy Lobbyist).
Stella M. Whitley is the epitome of a true home maker. She was the driving force in the family’s social life until James's death. She was involved in numerous social clubs ;The North Easterners (Founder Cleveland Chapter), Carrousels, and the Western Reserve Links.
James M. Whitley Was a Board Certified Registered Architect by NCARB and a member of (NOMA) National Organization of Minority Architects. James M. Whitley Jr. began his career working for Keith Haige in Cuyahoga Falls. From there James Whitley Jr. set out to open his own office. His first office was located on Chagrin Blvd and Lee Rd. in Shaker Heights. He had two commission from churches which are standing to this day. In the meantime his twin brother William was working for Dalton and Dalton Architects, one of the largest firms in the country. He was in charge of Designing 16 Sudan schools in Africa. Joyce R. Whitley was in Chicago working and teaching at the University of Chicago as the first African American female City Planner and Urban Designer in the United States. The team was set. The outside man was James M. Whitley, the inside man was William N. Whitley and the Planner was Rosaura Joyce Whitley. What a team. They solved issues and decisions as all for one, and one for all. It had to be unanimous between the siblings for them to move in a direction.
In 1963, James M. Whitley Jr. founded Whitley/Whitley Architects and Planners Inc, a full service architectural and planning firm specializing in institutional design, sport facility design, and commercial housing design, where he has served as president and designer. He went on to expand the firm alongside his brother, William, and his sister, Joyce, and moved Whitley/Whitley Architects and Planners Inc. to Shaker Heights, Ohio in 1968.
Whitley/Whitley Architects and Planner Inc. has provided a substantial amount of work in Cleveland and the State of Ohio for various city and state public agencies, as well as services for cities and community groups in cities throughout the United States, including St. Louis, Missouri; Indianapolis, Indiana; Fort Wayne, Indiana; Gary, Indiana; Chicago, Illinois; Saginaw, Michigan; Buffalo, New York; Rochester, New York; New York City, New York; Orlando, Florida; Atlanta, Georgia; Reading, Pennsylvania; Washington, D.C. and San Diego, California. Whitley/Whitley Architects and Planners Inc. was involved with work on Cleveland Gateway Development Jacobs Field, Cleveland’s Tower City Center, the Cleveland State University Convocation Center, Lincoln Junior High School, East Cleveland City Schools, Mayfair, Caldonia, Superior; Elementary schools, Kirk Middle School, and Shaw High School, Warrensville City Schools Nanatorium and the Warrensville High School Classrooms, the Lee-Harvard Branch of Cleveland Public Library, the Central Area Multi-Service Center, CMHA, NASA, and the Cleveland Clinic Guesthouse development. Other projects have included Kent State University's Fashion Museum, Cuyahoga County Community College's Technical Learning Center, and Cleveland’s John F. Kennedy Recreation Center. RTA’s Train Stations W.98th and Bus Maintenance facility. Cleveland State University Clock Tower. Whitley’s firm has also designed numerous housing units and worked on several rehabilitation projects.
Whitley/Whitley Architects and Planners LLC has received many awards and honors, including the Progressive Architecture Design Award, the HUD Biennial Design Award, Burlington Awards, the House and Home Award, the Ohio Press stress Concrete Design Award, the Ohio Masonry Council/ASO Award for Excellence in Masonry Design, the Cleveland Chapter of Architect’s Building Design Award, the East Ohio Energy Conservation Award, and the ASO Honor Awards Certificate of Merit. NOMA Design award, Minority Architects, Engineers of Ohio (MAEO)
James M. Whitley Jr. got involved in politics at the right time helping Carl Stokes get elected mayor, Arnold R. Pinkney Cleveland School Board, George L. Forbes Councilman, Judge Lloyd Brown Judge, and Richard Celeste Governor and a host of other local state and national elected officials. Because of the political realities ie. urban revitalization, opportunities came to black architects and planners from federal, state, county, regional, and city governmental agencies. This allowed the firm to become very experienced and experts in planning, programming, and designing public facilities.
James M. Whitley Jr. was a long time member of the Tau Boule Chapter of Sigma Pi Phi and was the longtime Social Committee Chairman. He was responsible for some of the best parties at the National Convention held in Cleveland, Ohio. His creative invitations, center piece designs and the exceptional venyous for the parties were all his doing. His center piece designs were so good the Cleveland Chapter of the Northeasterners requested him to design there center pieces for their Cleveland National Convention held in Cleveland, Ohio. He was also a founding member of the Gamma Tau of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc.
James M. Whitley Jr. Was a real renaissance man. He has three US Patents and one design patent. He was always toiling on something in his home office or with his twin brother William N. Whitley working on the Motor-Bunk in William’s garage. The twins never wasted time. They were either working on the architecture business, helping the kids with sports, homework, or the patents and were rarely ever late for dinner.
James M. Whitley Jr.s. Most proudest moment was when the Whitley family, Moses James Whitley Sr., Beatrice N. Whitley and the five Whitley siblings, Joyce, Gloria, Janice and the twins Jim and Bill were recognized by the Greater Cleveland Urban League as the family of the year for their work in the community, Karamu and the commitment to education. Everyone in the family had college degrees. The keynote speaker was Vernon Jordan the National President of the Urban League.
James M. Whitley Jr. the firm and family have been published in numerous magazines, newspaper and digital news and TV. The firm was recently recognized for the City of Cleveland Black History month "Building a Sense of Community" Honoring James, William, and Joyce Whitley, National magazine Black Enterprise Magazine, (National) Progressive Architecture (twice) once for design and once for a feature story about the firm. Local magazine Kaleidoscope, Clubdate, Newspapers, The Cleveland Press, Cleveland Plain Dealer and our beloved Call and Post. Digitally "The History Makers" The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection, "Raising Whitley" on the OWN Network.
James M. Whitley Jr. Was the Chairman of the Board of the Greater Cleveland Urban League, Director Greater Cleveland Growth Association, Member Leadership Cleveland, Member of the Hearing and Speech Center, Member Kent State Alumni Association, American Institute of Architects, Cuyahoga County Welfare Advisory Board, Operation Alert, Member NOMA National Organization of Minority Architects,
James M. Whitley Jr. was very proud of his nephews and nieces whom he helped raise as one of his own. Kyle N. Whitley (Construction Manager Executive) Kym Whitley (Comedian, Actress) Scott W. Whitley (Architect). He and his twin brother would take their families all over the world visiting family in the Scandinavia or discovering beautiful and interesting places to go in the world.
Throughout his life, James M. Whitley, Jr. Was a great friend, listener, confident and quiet advisor to many.
James M. Whitley, Jr. passed on September 10, 2021, surrounded by family. He was preceded in death by his sister Joyce R. Whitley. He leaves behind Stella, his beloved wife of 59 years; devoted son Kent A. Whitley (Pearl); adored grandchildren August James Whitley (Graduate The Ohio State University and Data Analyst for Branch Insurance), Twins Zoe C. Whitley and Amelia S. Whitley (Freshman Lacross student athletes at Youngstown State University); his sister Gloria Fleming (John) (Deceased); his twin brother William N. Whitley (Kaysonia) (Deceased); his sister Janice Carlstedt; his nephews Kyle N. Whitley (Lori), Scott W. Whitley (Jessica), Christopher Fleming; his nieces, Kym E. Whitley, "Little"Joyce Fleming, Stina Carlstedt; his grandnephews; David Whitley, Joshua Whitley, John Theodor Fleming, Joen Carlstedt, William Carlstedt, grand-neices; Tyler Whitley, Hannah Whitley, Cornelia Fleming, Marivie Fleming, and Smilla Fleming; Sister-In-Law Angela Glover (Alfred); his cousins Dr.Cornis Ennix (Kathy), Frank Ennix Esq. and many more loving friends.
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