The San Quentin community will always remember James Vick as a college student with a big smile. He was born in April 1953. He died in September 2021 while being treated for cancer.
A memorial service was held on Sept. 17 in the prison’s Protestant Chapel. He was honored by about 60 friends, including several teachers from the prison’s college program, Mount Tamalpais College (MTC).
The memorial began with Mike Boutta singing “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.”
MTC Chief Academic Officer Amy Jamgochian said, “I can’t imagine him not coming around with that huge smile on his face. He was such a kind man and a ray of sunshine and a lifelong learner.”
Marvin Mutch, formerly incarcerated for 42 years, now works for MTC.
“James always let us know that he’s happy. Anyone who met James knows he has freedom on his face. Remember him often and he’ll live on,” Mutch said.
Stephen Pascascio, the chapel’s sound engineer, said, “Whenever he came to the chapel, he would always check on me with a smile. He was so humble. That was my brother and I love him. I know he went in glory.”
After the scripture reading, Vick’s friends memorialized his life, some in tears:
“James was a very, very close friend. We were once cellies,” said James Jenkins. “We sat in church, right here, and fellowshipped. He was a blessed man.”
Brother Derry Brown said, “He encouraged me without knowing it. He was a man of education.”
Leonard Walker said, “I grew up with Vick. He couldn’t read or write, but when he went into creative writing, that connected him with God.”
Robert Barnes said, “He was always looking for us to uplift us so that we weren’t alone. He’s up there looking
down on us.
Here are some words spoken about who Vick was:
Always smiling – always happy – encouraging – a humble man – a special brother – a strong individual– very special – a ray of sunshine – inspirational – a lifelong learner a gift of learning – his kindness – a gentle person – a perfect example.
—Richard Fernandez contributed to this story