James P. Ifft Jr. (1950)

James P. Ifft Jr., third President of the Highland Park Community Club, is remembered as a wonderful man, a tremendous fellow with an open mind and a life filled with accomplishment. Before he was president of the club, he coached the pony and little league baseball teams. Ifft was born in the Hill District and graduated from Schenley High, the University of Pittsburgh, and Pitt Law School. He was an attorney and solicitorfor Columbia Savings Bank, one of the few banks reaching out to minorities inthe '30s and '40s. Ifft made it his lifelong legal practice to help black businesses get loans. He reached out to help black families get home mortgages. This ability to connect and help people originated from the extraordinary mix of people Ifft knew and played with as a boy. He loved growing up on the Hill and talking about the Hill's famous personalities spread around the country in sports, entertainment, and politics. Its mix of people influenced him for the rest of his life. He was able to make life-long friends in all communities, and loved to bring people together. Ifft was dedicated to city life as a way of learning about life. He never wanted to have anything to do with the growing suburbs, and chided people, "What are you ever going to learn about life and people out there?" He was also an athlete, playing baseball for the Reinecker Club at Center Avenue and Craig Street in North Oakland, next to the Luna. They were serious ballplayers that played against the Homestead Grays, Pittsburgh Crawfords, and other well-organized club teams.