He was preceded in death by his parents; five sisters - Maxine Taylor, Corliss Young, Hedy Hogan, Rosetta Offutt and June Powe; seven brothers - Wilbur Jr., Niles, Robert, Michael, Terry, Norman, Laverne Curry; a great-grandson - Ja'lyn; and his first wife - Beatrice.
James was a lover of God and he wanted everyone to know how to reach Heaven. He created the “Ask Me” button to witness to people; showing them the road to salvation. He began his ministerial career at the early age of 22. He most recently served Mount Carmel Baptist Church in Canton, Illinois where he was called to minister twice; 1957-1967 and 1998-2017. He also served at Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church, Champaign, IL.; from there, went on to become the Regional Coordinator of the Black Lay Ministry for Campus Crusade for Christ International, San Bernardino, CA.
He was also a part of the Lincoln’s Challenge Program, ministering by way of outreach with Word Alive Fellowship, in Rantoul, Illinois; Star of Hope Baptist Church and Peoples Church, both in Peoria, Illinois; Reba Place Church in Evanston, Illinois; and the African American Mennonite Association, Elkhart, Indiana (with ministries in Jamaica and Africa). In addition to Mt. Carmel Baptist Church, he also served through his prison ministry, most recently, at Illinois River Correctional Center in Canton, Illinois.
He was a loving Husband, Father and friend to many. In addition to his calling as a minister, he was an innovative and visionary entrepreneur.
He created Rimball Marketing and Development Inc. - a family run and owned business for 40+ years, he had one of the first coffee shops in America, he worked with Opportunities Industrialization Center - a nonprofit adult education and job training organization and he was part owner of a bookstore.
He was also a civil rights activist and a self proclaimed “Radical;” a true advocate for justice. Rev. Dr. James C. Offutt, Sr. believed in serving the community and helping those in need. He was also an avid reader, speaker, community organizer, and prolific writer of poetry, plays and music.
After the homegoing of his first wife, Rev. Dr. James Clifford Offutt, Sr. remarried Betty Simmons. They were both born in Centralia, Illinois, very close family friends, and even lived on the same street; Rexford. They both attended Lincoln Elementary School and Centralia Township High School.
Clifford, as he is affectionately known to his wife, family, and close friends, loved traveling. He and his wife, Betty, kept the highway “hot” going back and forth between Detroit, MI; St. Louis, MO; Chicago, Springfield, and Centralia, IL.
James will be tremendously missed. He often said to those he witnessed to, “I know where I’m going when I die...do you?” This truly summarizes his calling to the ministry and how devoted he was to serving humanity. His family and friends may take comfort in knowing he was called home, quietly and dignified, in the company of family, August 24, 2017.
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