Effie S. James, a retired insurance agent who attributed her longevity to walking, died in her sleep Friday at Manor Care Roland Park. She was 104.

Effie Turner, the daughter of a Civil War veteran who had fought with the Union Army, was born and raised in Northampton County, Va.

Mrs. James earned a degree in the 1920s from the old Virginia State Normal School, now Virginia State University, in Petersburg. She also attended Coppin State.

She was an insurance agent for North Carolina Mutual Insurance Co. and worked for 25 years in the same capacity until retiring in the 1960s from Mutual Benefit Society of Baltimore.

Her professional memberships included the Business and Professional Women's Club of Baltimore.

Mrs. James lived for more than 50 years on Fulton Avenue before moving to Emerald Estates, a Northwest Baltimore assisted-living facility in 1997. She had been living at the Manor Care facility for the past two months.

"She never drove a car and walked everywhere or took a bus or streetcar," said a son, Avon James of Ashburn, Va. "She was also reasonably careful about what she ate and never smoked. She would have an occasional social glass of wine."

Mrs. James also never lost her mental acumen and love for a lively game of pinochle.

"She was an avid pinochle player and she used to call her partner, Mary Allen, at Emerald Estates just a youngster," her son said, laughing. Her partner "was 103."

Her husband of 57 years, Arthur L. James, a former Baltimore Sun linotype operator, died in 1983.

Mrs. James was a longtime active member and a former trustee of Union Baptist Church, where she was also a member of the Queen Esther Circle.

Services will be held at noon today at her church, 1219 Druid Hill Ave.

Also surviving are another son, Leroy James of Baltimore; four grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

- Frederick N. Rasmussen

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