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Obituary: Judge Harry J. Elam, Sr.

8/22/2012, 10:19 a.m.
Keith Cassim Elam, son of the late legendary hip hop artist Keith “Guru” Elam, is shown here hugging his grandfather Judge Harry J. Elam Sr. during a memorial service held two years ago at UMass Boston. Judge Elam passed away last week after an extraordinary legal career and legacy of social activism. Ernesto Arroyo

 Judge Elam was very active over the years in community and civic affairs. A founder and first chairman of the Board of the Roxbury Multi-Service Center, he also served as chairman of the board of the Elma Lewis School of Fine Arts, the Urban League of Greater Boston, the Roxbury-Dorchester Conference on Urban Renewal, the Advent School, the Board of Trustees of the Noble and Greenough School, the National Center of African American Artists, St. Mark Congregational Church, and Mass Council on the Humanities.

He also served as legal counsel of the Boston Branch chapter of the NAACP. A long-time member of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity, he served as basileus (president) of Nu Psi, Gamma and Eta Phi chapters. He was a member of the Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity (“The Boule”) and the Bachmar Club of Boston. During his retirement he spent several years working on his “labor of love” for his mentor, the Judge Wade McCree, solicitor-general in the Carter administration. The Judge Wade McCree Project at Boston Latin School resulted in Judge McCree’s recognition as one of the school’s most distinguished graduates and a scholarship in Judge McCree’s name.

Judge Elam was the recipient of many awards and citations over the years.

His parents; older brother, Charles Henry; younger brother, Clarence Richard and son, Keith “Guru” Elam all preceded him in death.

He leaves his wife of 62 years, Barbara; his daughters, Tricia and Jocelyn; his son, Dr. Harry Justin II; daughter in-law, Michele; his six grandchildren, Justin, Denzel, Nile, Claire, Keith Casim and Brian; his two sisters, Annetta Capdeville and Harriet Elam-Thomas; brother-in-law, Wilfred Thomas and a legion of other relatives and friends, all of whom he loved madly.


The wake is Friday, Aug. 31, 6-9pm. The funeral is Saturday, Sept. 1 at 10:00am. Both services are at St. Mark Congregational Church, 200 Townsend Street, Dorchester, MA. Also in lieu of flowers, donations may be may to The Harry J. Elam Fund, Boston Latin School Association, 101 Huntington Avenue, Suite #200, Boston, MA 02199.