Felix “Zoo” James, L. B. Landry High School
Felix “Zoo” James graduated from McDonough #35 High School in 1937, and Xavier University in 1941. Following graduation from Xavier, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps. Initially a member of the Aviation Cadet Training Corps at Tuskegee Army Air Field, he received Medical Corps training at Selfridge Air Force Base, in Mt. Clemens, MI where he married his sweetheart, Bonita “Bun” Alfred, on November 18, 1943. He then returned to Tuskegee and the 332nd Fighter Group, with whom he served as a Medic in Italy during WWII.
Following the war, Felix attended Hampton Institute receiving his Masters Degree in Education. He returned to New Orleans, where he began his professional career at Gaudet School, the Episcopalian church-affiliated school and orphanage built on a 100-acre track of land established by Frances Gaudet… Felix culminated his 6-year stint there as Acting Principal and coach prior to the school’s closing in 1951.
Felix then transferred to L. B. Landry High School, as a teacher, and a track, basketball, and football coach. During his 15 years as Head Football Coach, the Buccaneers won 5 district, 3 city, and 2 state championships. In addition, several players went on to play in the NFL. He was most proud of the numerous students who, under his tutelage, went to college and on to successful careers.
In 1966, Felix was appointed as Coordinator for certification (Federal Programs) by the Orleans Parish Public Schools personnel department. During staff desegregation, he successfully recruited talented white and black college graduates as teachers and special education evaluators during that very important time in the district’s history. He was then appointed as the 1st African American Personnel Director for the OPPS.
After retiring from the school system, Felix was contacted by Dr. Norman C. Francis, and asked to return to his beloved alma mater as Athletic Director. He worked at Xavier until the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Among the many accolades “Zoo” received, was his initiation into the Greater New Orleans/Sugar Bowl Sports Hall of Fame in 1989. He was a member of the Tuskegee Airmen Association, as well as a proud and active member of the Studs and Your Friends Clubs.