After her birth, Mary James rarely lived in one place for more than a few years. She eventually graduated from New Buffalo High School, just a bit north of the Indiana-Michigan state line. Today, she is a mother, marketer, and general jack-of-all-trades living in La Porte with her family.
For the past 25 years, James raised her three sons with her husband and high school sweetheart, Bob James, who is also a teacher and coach at La Porte High School. She also does a variety of what she calls odd-jobs, from cleaning and waitressing, to managing the marketing for Albano’s Villa, where she puts her Marketing degree from Western Michigan University to use.
“I’ve done a lot of little odd-jobs, but never really had a career with my marketing degree,” James said. “When Albano’s approached me, over a few days they asked what I could do to take some of the marketing load off of them.”
Since then, she has recorded commercials, handled contact with newspapers, managed their social media, and more. While it is only one of many things keeping her busy, she appreciates the chance to work in marketing.
“I do love doing it, it’s definitely in my area,” she said. “It’s kind of in my spare time though, because my full-time is cleaning houses. I’m a bit like a jack-of-all-trades!”
Though interesting work is always exciting for James, her number one passion is family. Her parents eloped as teenagers, and moved every three years. As a result, they raised James and her siblings with a strong focus on family bonding, which she continues as a mother of three today.
“My parents were the best ever, they definitely instilled family values in us,” James said. “I’m definitely a mom at heart, my passions are my children and husband, and my family is the most important thing in my entire life.”
The James family is huge on sports. Besides her husband being the varsity coach for the La Porte Slicer’s football and track teams, her oldest son played college football, the middle son managed for Purdue’s football team, while her youngest is coaching at the University of Sioux Falls.
“I have two brothers, so I’m the only girl in the family and definitely live in a guy’s world,” James laughed. “I’m a sports fanatic and a big Michigan fan. Sports are definitely a big passion of mine.”
One way she stays engaged with sports and her community is through her involvement with the Play for Jake foundation, which screens students for undiagnosed heart conditions like the one that took the life of La Porte student Jake West during routine football practice in 2013. He was a close family friend of the James’, and she is part of the committee that organizes Play for Jake’s golf outing fundraiser.
“I drive the beer cart, and whatever money I raise during that day I give to the foundation,” James said. “This is our fourth year, and the other cart drivers and I have donated at least $1500 to $1800 extra back for the day.”
With all the jobs, activities, sports, and more that she finds herself involved in, James is rarely just relaxing at home. She would not have things any other way.
“I’m a busy woman,” she said. “I honestly thought that when my kids grew up life would get a little simpler. Yet right at this moment, it’s not very simple. There’s not enough hours in the day, but you know what, I’ll just keep plugging through and doing my thing!”