James Bernard Moss, chairman of the McCormick County School District board of trustees, died Saturday following a protracted illness.

“He had a real soul for education,” said trustee Melody Wilt, who was elected to the board in November. “The very first time I met him I was just struck by both his care for education and our kids — and his genuineness.”

The McCormick native was first elected to the board in 2016, along with Christine Lee and Heather McNally, who said the trio grew close during the campaign season. She last saw Moss on Friday.

“It’s a loss,” McNally said. “It’s another loss of a good leader and a good man and a good heart.”

He took a circuitous route to the board of trustees, and McNally described him as a “kind of a man with many chapters.”

Moss owned an upholstery business, B&B Upholstery, and former trustee Al Bell said Moss had a lawn care business at one point, served in the ministry and moonlighted as a photographer who was occasionally hired to shoot weddings.

But he will also be remembered for his service to the children of McCormick.

“All of the challenges that we’ve been able to face as a district, we’ve been able to work as a team and we’re very, very proud of where we’re at, and Bernard was a part of that,” McNally said.

Bell said it was important to Moss that every trustee was heard and that the board did things right. Verteema Chiles took over the responsibility of chairing the board’s recent meetings after Moss became too ill to attend.

“He’s had this long sickness,” Wilt said. “He’s persevered and tried to come out to as many board meetings as he could despite being very ill.”

She added that he had been sick for as long as she has known him — for about a year and a half.

Moss’ wife died in February. The couple are survived by a son who will soon begin his senior year of college, McNally said.

Moss’ memorial service will be at noon Wednesday at Cedar Springs Baptist Church in Plum Branch.

Contact staff writer Aleks Gilbert at 864-943-5644.