Manor Town Apartment resident James Sulcer has a story to tell. James’s story of human triumph and tragedy, runs the common thread of service to others.
James Sulcer was born in 1947 as the oldest sibling of a large southern family in New Orleans, Louisiana. Although he spent his youth in the city known for its contributions to blues and jazz music and as a classmate to such iconic musicians as Antoine “Fats” Domino Jr. and the Neville Brothers, it was clear early on that he was an exceptional student and would follow a path of service. He was ordained in the Israelite Church of God in Christ in 1976.
Shortly after graduating from high school, he attended Xavier University and graduated with a History degree in 1969. Within a year, he was called to serve his country and as a young soldier was sent to the Phu Loi base camp in Southern Vietnam. The base camp (also known as the Darkhorse Base Camp) was home to 1st and 2nd Battalions of the U.S. Army which saw heavy action during the Vietnam War. While stationed at Phu Loi, James was awarded “Soldier of the Month” on 3 separate occasions and promoted to the rank of sergeant within a year. A soldier normally will take 4 years to achieve the rank of sergeant, but he finished as the top soldier on the promotion board although he possessed less time in service than many of his fellow soldiers.
After returning from Vietnam in 1974, James was hired by Martin Marietta (later renamed Lockheed Martin) in their Watertown, Colorado facility. In 1976, he transferred to the Michoud Facility in New Orleans where he served as a trainer for purchasing agents for 18 years. During this time, he received the “Silver Snoopy” award which is given by NASA as a special honor awarded to NASA employees and contractors for outstanding achievements related to human flight safety or mission success. After a distinguished career at Lockheed Martin, he retired from the aviation company in 2001.
James began to teach elementary and middle school math in 2001 while living in New Orleans East when Hurricane Katrina hit the city in August of 2005. Once the levees burst and the lower portion of the city flooded, he and hundreds of other New Orleans citizens were forced to evacuate to the Superdome.
Although the conditions in the Superdome became a den of despair, James was able to find solace in his religion and strength in his past experiences in the Vietnam War to help others through the life-altering tragedy by forming a prayer group that helps many others weather the ordeal.
After a grueling stay in the Superdome, it was determined that he was unable to return home, wasn’t given a choice of where he would live, but given a one-way Greyhound Bus ticket to Texas. Although he didn’t have any kinship to Texas and was separated from his family, he was metaphorically sent to points unknown. He found his way to McKinney, Texas, and through the help of Red Cross his son was able to reunite with him. After much deliberation, he headed to Manor with the lure of free housing being offered to victims of Hurricane Katrina.
He adopted Manor as his new home and immediately became a part of the Manor community. In 2010, he served as chair of the East Rural Travis County Board. He is a past president of the Manor Lions Club, the first black man to serve in the position, and is currently the District Chaplin for the Lions Club. He is the current Place 4 member of the City of Manor Board of Adjustments. The board hears and determines appeals from the refusal of building permits, appeals resulting from administrative decisions and to permit an authorized exception to or variation from the zoning regulations.
Today, he spends his time on the Adjustment Board and as a liaison between Manor Town residents and community assistance groups connecting them to needed resources. James takes pride in his ability to help others.