James Nathaniel Preston Jr., a retired postal worker who enjoyed coaching youth sports, died Nov. 23 at the University of Maryland Medical Center from liver and kidney failure.
The Pikesville resident was 65.
Born in Baltimore, he was the son of James N. Preston Sr., a mineral foreman, and Grace Ella Preston, a homemaker. He was the oldest of four children, and was raised in the Essex/Back River neighborhoods.
He was a talented athlete, and as a student at Kenwood High School he played basketball, baseball and soccer. He was named to All-County teams in both baseball and soccer.
After graduating from Kenwood in 1971, Mr. Preston — who was known as “Jimmy” or “Press” — attended then-Frostburg State College and in 1975 received a degree in sociology.
While at Frostburg, he played baseball and in 1972 was a member of the NCAA Division III World Series baseball team.
After college, he went to work for the old Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co. In 1981 he joined the U.S. Postal Service and worked as a special delivery messenger. He retired in 2011.
Mr. Preston never lost his “passion for sports,” said his brother, Edward Michael Preston, a sports columnist for The Baltimore Sun who lives in New Windsor.
“Even when he stopped coaching his own children at recreation centers such as Ed Waters Track Club and Northwood Baseball, he continued directing youths, later becoming head coach of St. Frances High School’s baseball team, and then with Woodlawn recreation football,” his brother said.
Known for being a spiffy dresser, Mr. Preston also had “a great ear for music,” his brother said.
“He grew up listening to Motown favorites like the Temptations and Supremes, but later had other favorites like Elton John, the Doobie Brothers and Edgar Winter,” his brother said.
“Few though, could top his love for James Brown and Earth, Wind & Fire,” he added.
A viewing will be held from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at the James A. Morton & Son Funeral Home, 1701 Laurens St., Baltimore.
Mr. Preston was a former member of the First Baptist Church in Back River.
At the time of his death he was a member of New Psalmist Baptist Church, 6020 Marian Drive, Baltimore, where funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Monday.
In addition to his brother, Mr. Preston is survived by his wife of 38 years, the former Lauren Marie Campbell, a retired Baltimore City public school educator; a son, James Nathaniel Preston III of Owings Mills; a daughter, Brandi Linea Meban of Baltimore; a sister, Patricia Perry of Parkville; and numerous aunts, nieces and nephews.
— Frederick N. Rasmussen