Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Page 1


Services Set for Attorney James Flournoy


By a MetNews Staff Writer


Memorial services for Los Angeles attorney James L. Flournoy are scheduled for Saturday.

The service will take place at 11:00 at Calvary Baptist Church, located at 4911 West 59th Street in Los Angeles.

Flournoy passed away at his home on Feb. 21 after a long illness at the age of 93, his family said in a release.

The first African American to be nominated by a major political party for state constitutional office, Flournoy garnered the Republican nomination for a seat on the State Board of Equalization race and for secretary of state in 1970. He lost a primary for state controller in 1974.

His upset victory in the 1970 primary over six opponents, including an assemblyman and the widow of the previous secretary of state, was attributed by many to the fact that he shared a surname with Houston Flournoy, the state controller at the time.

His opponent in the general election that year was Jerry Brown, now the state attorney general. Brown, through a spokesperson, yesterday recalled his opponent as “a wonderful man, and a true gentleman.”

Had Flournoy won, he would have been the first African American elected to partisan state-wide office in California. It was at the same election that Wilson Riles defeated Max Rafferty to become superintendent of public instruction, a constitutional, but non-partisan, office.

In 1971, then-Gov. Ronald Regan appointed Flournoy to what was then called the Workmen’s Compensation Appeals Board, and in 1983 then-Gov. George Deukmejian named him deputy director of the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Flournoy also served as the national director of the Black Americans for Nixon-Agnew in 1968.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich remembered Flournoy as “a friend, supporter and a strong role model.”

Antonovich called the attorney “a straight-shooter and an honest, hard-working champion for the Republican principles of liberty, fairness and civil rights espoused by Abraham Lincoln.”

Flournoy graduated from Bishop College in Dallas, Tex., with a chemistry degree in 1938. He worked as a math and science instructor before joining the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1945.

After being honorably discharged in 1947, Flournoy did two years of graduate studies at UCLA and then enrolled at Southwestern Law School. He was admitted to the State Bar in 1954.

During the course of his law practice, he practiced for a time with the firm of Flournoy & Johnson, as well as with Wilson, Flournoy and Rudison.

The State Bar twice reproved him, once privately in 1985, and publicly rebuking in 1990 for failing to advise a client he was withdrawing from her case to accept the DMV appointment. 

He is survived by his wife Marilyn Flournoy and son James F. Etienne Jr.

Floral tributes may be sent care of the Harrison Ross Mortuary 4601 Crenshaw Boulevard, in Los Angeles, the family said.


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