Lots of people would go to James Gore II for advice and support. A friend to all, he also was a mentor and businessman.
"He was just a likable, lovable guy," said his wife, Shirleen. "People would always lean on him for advice."
Gore, owner of Gore Funeral Home for 32 years, died Saturday at Piedmont Medical Center. He was 60.
In 1987, Gore was elected as one of the two first blacks to serve as a City Council member in Chester. He served three terms before stepping down in 1999.
"He was a pillar of the community," Shirleen said.
A veteran, Gore served in Vietnam before retuning home in May, 1969. Having spent a year and a day in Vietnam, he was ready start a family, she said. He married his childhood sweetheart a month later.
They celebrated their 38th anniversary two days before he died.
Shirleen remembers the early days fondly. "He was the love of my life," she said.
They met while attending the same church, Shirleen said. She was 13 and in the seventh grade. Gore was three years older.
The Rev. Dennis White, pastor of Faith Walk Baptist Church in Greensboro, N.C., considered Gore a mentor. White credits Gore with helping him become the man he is today.
"He was a father figure to me and hundreds of others," said White, who also owns a group home for boys with behavioral problems. "He loved people, and he would help anybody."
James and Shirleen Gore had three children: Shalauna, 32, Janelle, 23, and James E. Gore III, 21. Shaulana described her father as a strong civic leader, a strong business mind, and one of God's soldiers.
"He was always fair, didn't judge, a friend to all, and the life of the party," Shalauna said. "All that and not to mention that he was an excellent father."