James and Carolyn Cauthen have been a part of the Mt. Juliet family for only two years, but the depth of love and number of ties that bind feels more like decades instead of years. There are many reasons why, but one of them is the simple fact that James loved God and His people. And God’s people loved James.
James was born in Dickson, Tennessee living for several years in Craggie Hope just down the road from Dickson. His father passed away when he was 13, which prompted his mother to move to Canton, Mississippi. She needed the support of her family to raise her three boys. The church in Canton reached out to James to help him with school supplies and clothes before he found a job. As they reached out to him, he reached back to them. James decided at a young age to follow the Lord and be a faithful child of God. He lived in a time when racial tensions often led to ungodly behavior, yet James kept his steps in the Light! However, there was an area that presented its challenges, 10th grade English. Interestingly, while he was repeating 10th grade English he had the opportunity to see a beautiful class mate for the first time. He listened carefully to the calling of the roll. She responded as the teacher said, “Carolyn Brown.” After class he walked up and said, “Well, hello Carolyn Brown.” She said, “Uhh,” while turning her head away and saying to herself, “I don’t want to know you!” James’ persistence paid off. They not only got to know each other, but she liked him and they fell in love. August 24, 1963, at the age of 16, sitting in her driveway he asked her to marry him. On January 5 of ’64 they were married. In November, Michael was born, four years later Daniel, and then Matthew. They eventually settled in White Bluff, Tennessee for three decades. Along the way they served for a period of time as house parents of 14 children, not counting their own, at Sunnybrook Children’s Home in Ridgeland, Mississippi. Later he worked in refrigeration at Vanderbilt and for over a decade running his own business.
James loved God, family, his ice-cream machine, gardening, greenhouse, fishing, photography, collecting coins, coke memorabilia, drinking coffee with buddies, spending time with grandchildren, and being at big social events. He loved being in peoples lives. James was the epitome of a “people person.” He loved to host a big 4th of July cookout simply to have everyone together. If his phone rang, he had to answer it. If someone needed something, whether family, friend, or stranger, he was the first to go — day or night. He would be the last to leave the church building. As he spoke of his passing, the message he wanted to leave behind was for no one to leave this world without Christ as their Savior and God as their Lord. This man who never met a stranger powerfully impacted our lives and countless others throughout his life. He always had a hug and a way to make you smile. He prayed fervently. He didn’t make this world his home. He explained to Carolyn during his 18 month battle with cancer; “This is a process that I have to go through to get to where I have wanted to go all my life — to be with God.” In recent days he loved to read the book of Job. As he thought of his passing, he hurt for his family, but he would smile as he spoke about what was waiting for him. “First I want to see my Heavenly Father,” he explained, as he talked for several minutes describing his soon to be departure and arrival. On Wednesday morning he breathed his last breath, closed his mouth with a beautiful smile, and the love of his life for over 50 years said, “boys, your father is home.” To the Cauthen family, we love you and extend our deep sympathy and prayers. We have another reason to want to go home.