Born to Boyd and Blanche Babb Prater in Stick Branch, KY, James F. Prater was the 2nd oldest of 6 siblings (two surviving in Illinois and KY.)
As a young boy, he trapped small game and sold their dried hides to Sears Roebuck in Chicago. With the modest income he purchased seed, salve, tobacco, candy and magazines reselling these to his neighbors and kinfolk for a small profit. Earnings were hidden in a hollow log near the family farmhouse.
A star student in business and a tennis champion on a clay court in the private boarding High School of Mount Carmel, Prater then enrolled at Pierce College in Philadelphia, where he studied finance, business management, and communication.
Completing his studies at Pierce, Prater joined the U.S. Air Force at the height of the Korean War. As a radio control engineer, he flew more than 500 flights on the C-119 Flying Boxcar and the B-29 Superfortress in Great Britain, Europe, Asia, Libya, and Tunisia and was proud to have transported the world’s first Surface-to-Surface Nuclear Missile into Africa. Among his military honors, the Holy Cross and Chain awarded by Pope Pius XII became an endeared moment of danger for dropping food and supplies to the people on a small frozen island off the coast of Italy. That pull to help the poor and forsaken never left him, nor was it far from his Christian upbringing, as his mother served in the role of "a mountain minister" to the poor and needy.
Following his four-year term of military service, Prater returned to Virginia briefly working with his Dad at the Sycamore Coal Company in Patterson before joining the Buchanan-Williamson Supply Company in Grundy; first as a salesman, and then moving quickly into management. With his business reputation recognized, he formed a partnership to launch Prater Wholesale and Electronics.
In the 1960’s, Prater’s life changed when he discovered a backwoods country singer on a local tv show that needed help in becoming established. The self made business entrepreneur, Jim Prater, then set up a Record Label and Publishing Co, recording # 1 hits of the day which landed him in Nashville, TN until 1978 when he joined famed Country Music Entertainer, Charley Pride, in Dallas, TX. Prater served as vice president of Chardon, Charley Pride's management and booking agency also known for the discovery and promoting of new talent. This led to marriage with country music entertainer and Mack Truck Poster Girl, Sandy Powell, who left the Music Industry in 1998 for the call of fulltime ministry.
Prater leaves behind his wife of 34 years, and a legacy of recognizing and helping to steer the careers of great talents including Charley Pride, Sylvia, Atlanta, Earl Thomas Conley, Dave and Sugar, as well as newly arising talent such as that of Garth Brooks and George Strait in the beginning of their careers.
A former board member of the Academy of Country Music, the Country Music Association, a producer and publisher of multiple Country Music hits, recipient of multiple Music Industry awards, Kentucky Colonel and author, James Festus Prater, was best known for his dedication and heart to help those who struggle to survive in the Appalachian Mountains, Native Indian reservations, and the streets housing the homeless across America and the world. His work to deliver food, supplies, and other needs to the poor and needy was the driving force of his life, not the lights or the cameras of the Entertainment world.
Sunday, December 27th Memorial service open to all 4-6pm at the PowerHouse Revival Center, 1200 Business Pkwy, #109, Madison, TN. In lieu of flowers, please make your tax-deductible donations to The Jim Prater Memorial Fund by going to PHMGIVE.COM
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