James “Jay” Lamont Sewell
1948 – 2018
Jay, as he was affectionately known, passed from this world on Friday, June 22, 2018, following a long illness. He had survived cancer surgery in 1997 to spend an additional two decades with his loving partner in life, Michael T. Elias, Esq., owner of the Corner Pocket Bar in New Orleans. The couple spent 35 years together and had cared for three adorable fur babies during their relationship: Callie, Tigger, and Minou.
Jay—a descendant of early Texas and Illinois pioneer families—was born in Austin on December 6, 1948; the family later moved to Corsicana. He is survived by his brother, Jay Hoover Sewell. He was preceded in death by his Father, James Carroll Sewell (1912 – 1976), and Mother, Janet Hoover Sewell (1918 – 1975).
Jay was the longtime daytime bartender at the Corner Pocket, at which he worked for nearly twenty years (1983 – 2002). He teamed up with beloved local entrepreneur and entertainer Lee Fetherston (Ms. Fly) soon after the bar opened. The two famously performed together, once re-enacting a drag version of “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?” Following Lee’s untimely death, his partner in life, Michael, purchased the bar in 2001.
Jay was a graduate of Corsicana High School in 1966, where he played drums in the high school band. He attended North Texas State University in Denton and later graduated from beauty school in Dallas.
In the early seventies, Jay moved to New Orleans, where he initially worked at D.H. Holmes Department Store as a hair stylist to many colorful local personalities.
Jay’s great great grandfather and his father were both highly respected members of the Texas Legislature. On his mother’s side, his grandfather was the oldest practicing veterinarian in Northern Illinois at the time of his death (1945).
His father, who was blinded during the war in the Pacific, graduated from the University of Texas School of Law with honors following World War II.
His Mother was a graduate of the University of Illinois in Geology (1940); during World War II, she worked for Cities Service Oil Co.
Jay was born amidst the baby boom. After the war, the family moved to Navarro County, Texas (1952). His father was appointed County Judge, and later elected State District Judge.
His younger brother, Jay, was born there in 1955. He says that James “Jay” “inherited his Father’s tenacity for living large—and living life on his own terms.”
There will be a public Celebration of Life at The Corner Pocket, 940 St. Louis Street, New Orleans, on Sunday, July 1, 2018, at 3:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. The Very Rev. Bill Terry, Rector, of St. Anna’s Episcopal Church, will officiate.
In lieu of flowers, donations to the Louisiana SPCA (https://www.la-spca.org).
Special thanks to Niles Monnin and Matt Downey, Jr., personal caregivers, the entire family at the Corner Pocket for their love and support in difficult times and to Rev. Bill Terry and St. Anna’s Episcopal Church for their love and support.
Arrangements handled by Tharp-Sontheimer-Tharp Funeral Home. Information 504-835-2341. Condolences may be expressed online at www.tharpsontheimerfh.com.