James Franklin Langwell passed away peacefully in his sleep on Monday, January 21 at his home in Asheville, North Carolina at the age of 91.
He was born on January 3, 1928 in Houston, Texas to Clarence Estes Langwell and Viola Barnes Langwell and attended Jeff Davis High School and University of Houston. His curious mind and passion for aviation, photography, sound, chemistry, physics, astronomy, comedy, gadgets of all kinds, and language led him onto work in radio, television and eventually motion picture film sound mixing. He often said he loved every job he had ever had.
Jim started off as an engineer at a radio station in Houston where many of the shows aired live. One evening a young truck driver came into perform a few numbers and Jim thought he was one of the worst performers he’d ever heard. The truck driver turned out to be Elvis Presley.
From there, Jim took a job as a sound engineer at KPRC-TV in Houston at the dawn of television when working in TV was considered by most to be a quite glamorous job. This eventually led to a position as a soundman with ABC News in the mid-sixties. Jim had many adventures working with ABC and was a part of some momentous events in history, including the Selma to Montgomery March, the Six-Day War, and numerous Civil Rights events including the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.
In the early seventies Jim started Lanco Sound, a sound lab in Atlanta, Georgia. He spent well over a decade mixing sound for commercials and films, processing optical tracks and renting rooms to film editors. At the time there was a small but close-knit group of people in the film industry in Atlanta and Lanco Sound became well-known for its convivial atmosphere, after work softball games and beer machine.
In his youth Jim loved flying small, tail-dragger aircraft and kept his pilot license in his wallet “just in case” until his final days. He also enjoyed boating, motorcycles, trapeze acts (watching, not performing), photography, German language, New Yorker cartoons, movies, Ella Fitzgerald, gumbo and writing jokes. He was the spirit of generosity, intelligence and wit. It is fitting that as he left this world, a magnificent lunar eclipse occurred and the dawn brought MLK, Jr. Day. “Bim” will be missed, but he leaves a legacy of interest in radio, film, chemistry, astronomy and, most importantly, a sense of humor in all of his children and grandchildren.
He is survived by his children, Laura Langwell (Asheville), Kathryn Langwell (Asheville) and James R. Langwell (Atlanta), son-in-law, Lance Ball, and his grandsons, Renny and Charles Ball.
In lieu of flowers, gifts can be made to to Manna Food Bank in honor of the nurses of CarePartners Hospice in Asheville. There will be a memorial service in Atlanta in the spring, details to be determined.
Saturday, April 27 @ 11:00am
Oglethorpe Presbyterian Church
3016 Lanier Dr. NE
Atlanta, GA 30319