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James Weldon Meeks dead; Rep. Gregory Meeks’ father was 90

WASHINGTON — James Weldon Meeks, father of Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-St. Albans), died of heart disease due to old age Nov. 26 at the Regency Heritage Center in Somerset, New Jersey. He was 90.

James Meeks worked at Carnegie Hall before retiring. He volunteered as a coach of the Browns, a Pop Warner football team in East Harlem. He also ran the community center for the Lehman Village Housing Projects.

As a young man, he sought a career in boxing. He trained at Sugar Ray Robinson’s gym as a teenager, and later also trained for the Golden Gloves in New York City.

After he was drafted in 1944, Meeks boxed at military posts around the country, including in Alaska, where he sparred with boxing great Joe Louis, his family said.

In addition to the congressman, Meeks is survived by his other four children, Rosalyn Meeks Joseph, Janella Renee Meeks, John T. Meeks and Weldon Ali Graham; his sister, Vernon “Bunny” Crawford of Gastonia, North Carolina; and eight grandchildren.

He was buried Dec. 7 at the Long Island National Cemetery in Pinelawn. A private memorial service was held Saturday.

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