Jim is a retired attorney, who, with his wife, the Rev. Betty Grace McCollum, moved to Emerson, Arkansas in 1995, to take up residence on the old McCollum home place in the southern part of Columbia County, Arkansas. (This 720 acre farm has been in the McCollum family over 150 years).
He was born and raised in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois and received his BS in Geology and JD in Law from the University of Illinois, in 1956 and 1962, respectively. Between his undergraduate studies and Law School, Jim served two years active duty as an officer in the US Army and later another 6 years in the Active Reserve, leaving with the rank of captain.
After retiring from a 34 year law practice in Rochester, New York, Jim worked at Southern Arkansas University (SAU) in the Technology Services Department for 11 years, before retiring a second time.
He, currently, is an enrolled student at SAU, seeking a bachelor’s degree in History. Concurrently he teaches American Constitutional Law and Administrative Law as an adjunct professor in the History Dept.
He is active in the Arkansas Democratic Party, serving on the Columbia County, Arkansas and State Party Committees and in the Democratic State Faith Caucus. He also is the founder of the Arkansas Chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
Betty Grace teaches courses in the Philosophy and Religious Studies minor at SAU.
In 1948, Jim’s mother won a landmark case in the US Supreme Court, Peo. of the State of Illinois, ex rel Vashti McCollum -v- School Board, in which sectarian religious classes were banned from the nation’s public schools. Jim was the object of that case.
His father, Dr. John P. McCollum, was born and raised on the farm in South Arkansas, where Jim and his wife currently live. He was one of eleven children, 6 boys and 5 girls, born between 1902 and 1920, all of whom received a full college education. He was a career long professor of olericulture (vegetable crops) at the University of Illinois.
Jim has three children, Vashti, Angus and Katie, and six grandchildren.