James Patrick Henry Roane was born in 1895, the fifth child, and fourth son of John F. & Mary J. (Donahue) Roane. His mother died as the year 1900 ended, and his father never remarried, - leaving James and his siblings to grow up motherless.
His sister Mollie, the eldest and only girl at 10 years, raised her brothers and kept house for her father. At least one year when school let out (1902), James and his brothers were sent out of the city to Baker Farm in Tyngsboro, which was apparently a summer camp where boys could experience more nature and cleaner air and water than was possible in Lowell, a city built by factory owners.
Young James played sports in school and was a noted quarterback for the Lowell High football team, following in the footsteps of his older brothers who were all noted athletes. The amusing nickname, "Roundy Roane" was applied to various of the brothers, in turn, including James, and probably was descriptive of a short, muscular frame.
The Roane men all had excellent voices. They sang in (Roman Catholic) church choirs all over the city, and entertained at public and private events. James, as a teenager, was the only one to have gone professional. He went off with a touring company, billed as, "the Boy Tenor of New England." (See photo on the left of page.) The Lowell Sun newspaper noted on May, 2, 1912:
"...riding the crest of a popular wave, scored a tremendous hit in minstrelsy at Associate Hall. Patrons thought the program was the best ever presented by this talented group. Interlocutor was Charlie McKenzie, with Tom Salmon, Ed andley, Joe Clarke and James Roane as end men."
His son, James P.H. Roane, Jr. recalled that his father sang over the radio. While I can't confirm that, James, Sr. was a broadcast announcer for local sporting events. Certain newspaper comments suggest that James Roane's style wasn't popular with all listeners.
According to Lowell City Directories, James had enlisted in the US Army by 1915. He served until 1919. (All his older brothers were also veterans of WWI.)
Returning to civilian life, he worked as a stock clerk at a machine shop. At this point, James grew close to another Lowell High alum, Edna Mae Keirstead, who was a bookkeeper at Union National Bank.
Edna wasn't Irish (English / German), wasn't American (born Canada), and wasn't a Catholic (Baptist). Clearly, the young couple shared a common vision, and they married in the Roanes' St. Margaret's parish church on May 31, 1921.
The newlyweds left for Lakewood, Ohio (a suburb of Cleveland) where James had a sales job with the May Company, and Edna clerked for the Union Trust Company. But their fist plan didn't last long. James and Edna returned to Lowell that same year, possibly due to the August death of his father-in-law, Levi Springer Keirstead (b.1858).
James earned a degree from Suffolk Law School in 1923, the year his first child was born, a daughter, Edna Mary Roane (d. 2014). Perhaps the outlook for earnings in law looked poor, or James decided it didn't suit him, for he next studied medicine at Harvard University, which gave him credentials for a career in physical education. When his son, James, Jr. was born in 1924, James, Sr. was the phys ed teacher at Lowell's Charles Morey School. In the 30 years following, he was also a team trainer, and Athletic Director for the Lowell Public Schools before he retired.
He was known as "Baba" to his grandchildren, whom he left with memories of his warmth, sense of fun, and love.
[Lowell Sun - 11 Apr 1960] James P.H. Roane Dies at 64 LOWELL -- James P. H. Roane, a lifelong resident of Lowell having made his home at 12 Bagley avenue, died yesterday morning at St. John's hospital. He was 64.
Mr. Roane was born in Lowell, the son of the late John F. and Mary (Donahue) Roane. Following his graduation from Lowell high school, Mr. Roane matriculated at Suffolk Law school from which he was graduated in 1920. After completing graduate work at Harvard University, Mr. Roane was appointed physical education teacher in the Lowell school system, and held that position for over 30 years until his retirement in 1952.
Active in fraternal organizations, Mr. Roane, as a veteran of World War I, was a member of Lowell Post 87, American Legion, and Lowell Lodge 87, BPOE of which he was a past exalted ruler. He was a communicant of St. Margaret's church.
He is survived by his wife, the former Edna M. Keirstead; a daughter, Mrs. Edmond L. O'Keefe of Lowell; a son, James P. H. Roane, Jr., of Mansfield; a sister, Miss Mary M. Roane of Lowell; a brother, George Roane of Los Angeles, California; 10 grandchildren.
City Clerk's Office, Lowell, Massachusetts; Births Vol. 1895; Page 191; #1706; Deaths 1960; #389; Marriages 1921, #352.
Various newspaper articles from The Lowell Sun (Lowell, MA).
City Directories for Lowell, MA (1915-1961) and Lakewood, OH (1921).
Personal knowledge of Christine Roane (granddaughter).
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