Cover photo for James Hunter Sewell, Jr.'s Obituary
James Hunter Sewell, Jr. Profile Photo
1930 James 2024

James Hunter Sewell, Jr.

August 10, 1930 — April 22, 2024

West Brandywine Twp.

James H. Sewell Jr. ‘56, died in West Brandywine, PA, and will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

James Hunter Sewell Jr. was born in San Antonio, Texas, the son of James Hunter Sewell Sr. and Alice Wall Sewell. He is survived by his sister Ruth McCulloch (Gerald, dec.) of San Antonio and her children.

Jim grew up in San Antonio. In 1947 he graduated from Brackenridge High School, then entered San Antonio College. He also attended St. Mary’s University, and the University of Texas. Summers he worked as a surveyor and on construction projects. He also joined the Naval Reserve.

In September 1950, retroactively obtaining a discharge from the Navy, Jim enlisted in the Air Force and was assigned to Lackland Air Force Base, where he successfully passed an examination to seek an appointment to West Point.

In August 1951 Jim entered West Point on a competitive Regular Air Force appointment. He also became at that time a triple veteran with service in the Navy, Air Force and Army.

As a cadet Jim was a member of the Class Committee and the Camera Club, the Debate Council and Forum, and the Plebe Rifle Team. As a First Classman he was a Cadet Captain and Company Commander of B-1. During all four years he and classmate Bill Skidmore were roommates. Academically Jim did very well, standing 62 of 480 on the Graduation Order of Merit List.

Wrote his classmates in The Howitzer, the West Point yearbook, “Still under the redboy at the three minute bell, he would always in his own inimitable way make assembly on time. Jim’s only gripe during four years at West Point was that the weather was working against him. But he would always say it with a smile that showed that he was from Texas.”

After graduation Jim married Susan Graham. Together they had a son James Hunter Sewell III and daughter Sally Elizabeth. All three have predeceased him.  Jim is survived by Sally’s children Cassie Sewell Ortiz (David), Sarah Kelly, and John Edward Kelly and Cassie’s children: Caydence Josephine, Trystan Charles, Declan Hunter, and Sedaleigh Vaughn. 

Upon graduation Jim was commissioned in Armor. After the Armor Officer Basic Course at Fort Knox, then airborne training at Fort Benning, he went for his first troop assignment to the 2nd Armored Division in Mainz, Germany, later serving in the 8th Cavalry, 8th Infantry Division, at Mannheim.  After three years in Europe he returned for a three-year tour with the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, serving in Troop B, 17th Cavalry, and becoming troop commander. 

Graduate school came next, as Jim earned a Master of Science degree in Mathematics at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. His follow-on assignment was three years teaching in the Department of Mathematics at West Point. During this tour he branch transferred to the Chemical Corps because of hearing loss attributed to tank gunnery. 

Next came a year at Third Army Headquarters at Fort McPherson, Georgia, as a nuclear effects officer. Jim was then accepted into the new Operations and Systems Analysis (ORSA) program. In that capacity he was sent to Vietnam, serving in the R&D Division of CORDS (Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support). He led development of the Hamlet Evaluation System, known as HES70, that produced monthly reports on the military and governmental status at hamlet level.

That assignment was followed by three years in J-5 at CINCPAC Headquarters at Camp Smith, Hawaii, managing the Force and Materiel Report, the master inventory of all personnel (including military K-9’s) and equipment in the Pacific Command. The FAMREP, as it was known, provided the data base for planning and executing force and materiel withdrawal from Vietnam.

Jim next was assigned to the Army Chemical School at Fort McClellan, Alabama, with major responsibility for implementing for officers attending the Chemical Officer Advanced Course the first student-centered instructional program in the Army, an innovation that was widely acclaimed.

Jim was then selected as Director of Special Studies, War Gaming Directorate, of the newly-formed Concepts Analysis Agency. His final active duty assignment was two years at Fifth Army Headquarters at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, where he served in the Comptroller Division, measuring the effectiveness of the widespread National Guard structure. He retired in October 1977 as a lieutenant colonel.

Jim’s decorations included the Bronze Star Medal and the Army Commendation Medal. He also wore the Parachutist Badge and, as a souvenir of his enlisted service, the Good Conduct Ribbon.

Upon retirement Jim returned to San Antonio, where he worked for USAA as Manager, Marketing and Customer Analysis. His major contributions in ten years with that company were advances in customer satisfaction programs and targeting technologies. He left USAA for work in target market applications in industry. Major clients included Traveler’s Insurance, National Liberty, and Digital Equipment Corporation. 

In 1984 Jim married Dr. Sandra Hyatt. Their family now includes daughter Suzanne Kinsey and her son Casey Kinsey Harrington and daughter Melissa Noble, her husband Bruce Noble Sr. and sons Bruce Noble, Jr. and his wife Dr. Tarra Noble and their two sons  Bruce Paul Noble III, and Jacob Ryan Noble; and Thomas Noble, his wife Hailee and their daughter, Willow Jean Noble. Tom and Hailee are expecting twins in November!

After initially living in San Antonio, Jim’s business interests took them to West Hartford, Connecticut, then to West Chester, Pennsylvania. In 1991 Jim joined with several associates to form Thomas Bayes Corporation to bring marketing, targeting, and decision support to such clients as AT&T, Farmer’s Insurance, Sears, and Aramark. After Jim’s retirement from business in 2015 they continued living in West Chester for a time, then relocated to Freedom Village Brandywine, a nearby retirement facility.

Jim and Sandra are members of Calvary Lutheran Church in West Chester where they both sang in Calvary’s celebrated choir. Since their move to Freedom Village they have attended Messiah Lutheran church of Downingtown. At Calvary LC they became Christmas Bell Ringers for the Salvation Army—an activity they both enjoyed immensely for several years.

Jim belonged to the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of Texas. He enjoyed painting in oils and sculpting. After three generations of German Shepherds they acquired Lady, a rescue dog (“the best dog we’ve ever had”). And when Jim’s son died they inherited Rebel the Parrot.

Jim’s family extends its deepest thanks to the professional staff at Freedom Village who cared for Jim during his illness.

Jim Sewell was a smart, thoughtful, and genial officer, much admired by those who knew and served with him. May he rest in peace.

Memorial contributions to either of the churches listed above would be appreciated.

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