Cover photo for James Mercer's Obituary
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James Mercer

d. May 24, 2021

JAMES (JIM) MERCER, 1936 - 2021

Born in Sayre, OK to Fred Elmo (an oil field worker) and Ora Lee (Davidson) Mercer, he was the youngest of 5 siblings. He grew up in Sayre, attended the local high school, and played on most of the sports teams with football being his favorite. After high school and a brief time at college, he joined the U.S. Navy initially on the USS Intrepid aircraft carrier. Qualifying as a submariner, the majority of his Navy career was spent serving on board the submarines USS Bergall and USS Trigger.

He studied at the University of Nevada, Reno first for a B.Sc. in Industrial Management and then an M.B.A. and was later a founding member of the Board of Trustees and a Trustee Emeritus of the University of Nevada Foundation. He also graduated from the Executive Development Program at Cornell University.

Jim worked in a number of roles in public management and executive search. He was an Assistant City Manager of Raleigh, NC where he received a key to the city for outstanding service before leaving to be the National Program Director for Public Technology, Inc., Washington, D. C., where he organized and developed the highly successful Urban Technology System (UTS) to bring the benefits of science and technology to bear on high priority local government problems. He was General Manager of Southern Operations and Senior Research Scientist for Battelle Memorial Institute, the world’s largest independent research and development organization, and was a Partner/Vice President of Korn/Ferry International, the world’s largest executive search firm. He was on the research faculty and a Senior Research Scientist for the Georgia Productivity Center and Industrial Extension Division for Georgia Tech and he directed the public sector consulting practice for Coopers & Lybrand in 12 states prior to its becoming Price Waterhouse Coopers. In 1981, he started James Mercer and Associates, Inc. which he ran for nearly 10 years. Then in 1990, he founded and was the President/CEO of The Mercer Group, Inc., a management consulting and executive search firm that he ran for 30 years.

Other activities include being a lifelong football fan especially of the Oklahoma Sooners and UNR teams. Professional activities and achievements include being a Certified Management Consultant of the Institute of Management Consultants USA where he had been a Board Member and Past Vice President of the Atlanta Chapter. He had been inducted into Beta Gamma Sigma, the national honor society in business and administration, was named a Kentucky Colonel in 1982, and was a 32nd degree Mason in the Masonic Order. Jim was also an Emeritus Member of the Advisory Board to the Dean of the School of Business at Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo, CA. He was a founding member of the Advisory Board to the School of Public Affairs of the University of South Carolina and the College of Charleston. He also was listed in Marquis’ Who’s Who in the World, Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in the South and Southwest, Who’s Who in Business and Finance, and Contemporary Authors. He published six books on public management and technology, contributed to four others, and wrote 300 articles and reports. He was also a featured speaker and guest lecturer at a number of organizations, conferences, and universities.

He is preceded in death by his parents and all of his siblings (Fred Jr, Theresa, Jean, Jack, and JD).
He is survived by his wife Karolyn Prince-Mercer and children Tara (husband Kurt) Wales and James (wife Eleanor) Mercer and grandchildren: Ethan Wales, Sam (wife Morgan) Wales, Erin Wales, Tim (wife Sophie) Mercer, Rebekah Mercer, Ben Mercer, Nick Mercer, Greg Mercer, Daniel Mercer, Thomas Mercer, and great-grandchildren Effie Mercer and Henry Wales.

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