Event planned to remember Columbus Elections Specialist Jeanette James

Local News

COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – Pastor Cheryl Sapp of Columbus lost her sister Jeanette James on May 25, 2021 to a sudden illness. 

The two were close, having grown up in Grand Rapids, Michigan. As the girls became older, Jeanette would follow her oldest sister Cheryl wherever Cheryl called home. Eventually their paths led them to Columbus, Georgia. Losing Jeanette so suddenly after her sister had beaten lung cancer, was hard to comprehend. Cheryl has decided to honor her sister’s memory.

“As a grief counselor, one of the tools I have always taught my clients is to develop good memories in regards to their loved one. Creating a memorial for them allows them to focus on the positive and not the negative. It also gives other friends and family members a way to honor their life also,” said Cheryl Sapp, sister of Jeanette James.

According to Cheryl, Jeanette wore Chuck Taylor sneakers with pearls long before Vice President Kamala Harris made the fashion trend famous. To honor her sister, Cheryl is launching the Jeanette James Inaugural Hats, Pearls, Gloves and Chucks Event. 

“What I would like to see with this event is the awarding of a scholarship in my sister’s name for someone who has served time in prison but has turned their life around and wants to pursue an education. My sister did just that with her life. Her life changed dramatically when she gave her life to Jesus. Jeanette recognized how difficult it is for those with felony convictions to start all over again,” said Sapp. 

Jeanette James was well liked and respected by the city officials she worked with for more than a decade.

Jeanette also served as a Minister of the Gospel at Greater Mt Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Phenix City Alabama.

Months before Jeanette’s passing, she and Cheryl were united with their baby sister Dianna, born Donna. They were told as teens they had a  sister who disappeared in East St. Louis, Illinois as a baby. Ancestry.com helped the sisters find one another. They met for the first time on March 20, 2021 in Columbus. Now Dianna McBride and Cheryl support each other as they grieve for their beloved sister. They’re looking forward to honoring her each year.


  • When: July 11, 2021
  • Time: 12:00 PM
  • Place: Overcomers Christian Church
  • 6000 Buena Vista Road
  • Columbus, Georgia
  • Spoken Word will be preached by Jeanette James’ niece, Minister Rhonda Hayes, Ph.D.
  • Brunch will follow.

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