James B. Pahl


James B. Pahl of Mason, Michigan was elected Commander-in-Chief at the 125 th National Encampment of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on August 12, 2006. He is the 6 th from Michigan to serve as Commander-in-Chief. C_in_C Pahl’s membership in the SUVCW is through his great-great grandfather, John Boyer, a private in Co. A, 29 th Indiana Volunteer Infantry, who was wounded at Chickamauga.

James is the son of Lawrence J. Pahl and Norma Faust Pahl, born in Jackson, Michigan. His family shortly thereafter moved to Marshall, Michigan, where James was raised, graduating from high school in 1971. Marshall was the residence of escaped slave Adam Crosswhite. After being arrested by Kentucky deputy sheriff’s, he was rescued by a group of citizens and spirited off to Canada, while the Kentucky deputies cooled their heels in the Calhoun County Jail. The very active Marshall Historical Society, the prominent GAR hall in downtown Marshall and the several companies of troops Marshall contributed in the war effort, first gave to James his interest in the Civil War.

He continued his education at Kellogg Community College in Battle Creek. After receiving an Associate of Arts in Criminal Justice, he continued his studies at Ferris State College in Big Rapids, Michigan, receiving a Bachelor of Science in Law Enforcement in 1975. A few years later, he returned to school and earned a Juris Doctor degree from the Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Michigan in 1981. He has attended several courses at the National Judicial College, on the campus of the University of Nevada-Reno.

He began a 20-year career in public law enforcement while at Kellogg Community College, retiring as the Chief of Police for the Village of Sunfield in 1992. This included sworn service with the police departments in Ypsilanti, Dewitt, Vermontville and Sunfield.

James was a partner in the law firm of Pahl and Hengesbach, practicing in probate, small closely held corporations, construction lien claims and real estate law. His long time law partner, Kathleen Hengesbach is active in the Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War, 1861-1865.

He was appointed Magistrate of the 55 th District Court in March of 1992 and has served there since. He is a training magistrate for the Michigan Judicial Institute, the educational arm of the Supreme Court. He teaches motor carrier law at each new magistrate school. He is currently the vice-president of the Michigan Association of District Court Magistrates.

He is a member of Lansing Central Free Methodist Church, where he is currently the elected delegate to the East Michigan Annual Conference and has also been elected as a delegate of the Conference to the denomination’s General Conference, to be held in 2007. He has five tours as a short term VISA volunteer missionary to the Dominican Republic and Brazil.

James is a member of the Ingham South Camp of The Gideon’s International. He is active in Civil War reenacting, serving as the commanding officer of Co. B., 102 nd United States Colored Troops (a.k.a. the 1 st Michigan Colored Troops). He is also a member of the Michigan Living History Association, recreating the 16 th Michigan Volunteer Infantry. As such, he volunteers in uniform one weekend each September at Fort Mackinaw State Park. Brother Pahl is adjunct faculty at Great Lakes Christian College in Lansing, Michigan, teaching courses in government.

Brother Pahl became a member of the Curtenius Guard Camp #17, Department of Michigan on April 24, 1982. He served as Camp Counselor and Camp Secretary before a year as Junior Vice Commander and then Senior Vice Commander, after which he was elected Camp Commander. He was instrumental in the fund-raising project to obtain a state historical marker for the GAR hall his Camp meets in. He was awarded the Samuel W. Grinnell Award for outstanding service to the Camp.

Brother Pahl was introduced to Department office first as Guard. After several other offices, he was elected Department Commander and installed by then Commander in Chief Lowell Hammer. James re-instituted the Michigan Messenger, the Department newsletter which had been dormant for decades and he began midwinter encampments to train new officers. He was privileged to preside over the installation of three new Camps. He was awarded the Department’s Abraham Lincoln Award for outstanding service to the Department.

Nationally, brother Pahl served as National Counselor for some 10 years, first appointed to this position by Keith Harrison. He also served as National Treasurer for four years. He was also appointed to the National Committee on Constitution and Regulations and eventually became chairman. As chairman of the Special Committee on Digest, brother Pahl was instrumental in the publication of the Digest of the Order, setting down the rulings of Past Commander’s-in-Chief and opinions of National Counselors for all published proceedings of the Order. In working on this project, he read almost every past Proceeding of the Order. He is the recipient of the Cornelius Whitehouse Brother of the Year award and has been awarded the Meritorious Service Award with Gold Star. He was elected Junior Vice Commander_in_Chief in 2004 and then Senior Vice Commander_in_Chief in 2005.

Brother Pahl has served as Judge Advocate General of the SVR for the past few years, from which he has now taken a one year leave of absence.

He resides with his bride of 32 years, Carol and has three children.

August 2006

James B Pahl