Friends, colleagues remember James Vancherie, Havre de Grace businessman, ex-councilman

James C. Vancherie Jr., a former Havre de Grace city councilman known for his opinionated personality, died Saturday. He was 90.

Mr. Vancherie became known in town as the owner of Vancherie's Restaurant on Union Avenue, which he operated for 62 years.

He also ran the Inter-County Bus Line, which provided charter services and commuter service along Route 40 to Baltimore.

He served on the city council for four years after being elected in 1989.

A viewing and funeral were Thursday at Zellman Funeral Home in Havre de Grace. Interment was in Angel Hill Cemetery.

Mr. Vancherie ran into several controversies during his time on the council. Most notably, he had a federal tax lien filed against his bus line after he failed to pay taxes in 1993.

He was a tenacious fighter for things he believed in. His father, James Vancherie Sr., was Havre de Grace's mayor during the 1960s.

City council members recalled Mr. Vancherie fondly during Monday's council meeting.

Mayor Wayne Dougherty called him "a very direct individual" and "to the point," noting he would also help anyone.

"If there is anything he could do, he would do it," Dougherty said. "He will be missed."

Dougherty said he could remember Mr. Vancherie greeting him with, "Boy, what are you up to?" and said the former councilman always tried to find a way to get something accomplished.

"If it was something that really couldn't be done, he had a philosophy of 'why not?'" the mayor said.

"He was an individual who spoke his mind, an individual who did his homework," he said.

Council President Randy Craig said Mr. Vancherie would remind him that his father and Craig's father, County Executive David Craig, were both mayors of the city.

Craig recalled that his father would take him to Vancherie's restaurant on Friday nights because his mother worked late. He was only allowed to get one small milkshake that he would split with his sibling.

"Mr. Vancherie and I had a very interesting relationship," Craig said.

When Vancherie got into arguments on the council dais, "he always did it with a smile on his face," Craig said.

Councilman Fred Cullum, who served on the council with Mr. Vancherie, said Mr. Vancherie cared "deeply" about the city.

"Everybody knew the Vancheries," Cullum said. "You always knew how he felt and where he stood on an issue."

Cullum called him "community-spirited" and a "likable guy" who was a big supporter of the police department.

"If you knew Jimmy, you liked Jimmy," he said.

Councilman John Correri said "there was no bigger man in Havre de Grace," although Mr. Vancherie was not very tall.

Correri had been a friend of the Vancheries for a long time and was an honorary pallbearer at Mr. Vancherie's funeral.

Correri said Mr. Vancherie had a big heart and was "beyond icon, beyond giant."

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