James E. Henry Jr., 75, a retired site director with the Philadelphia Recreation Department, died of pulmonary fibrosis on Friday, May 20, at Penn Hospice at Rittenhouse in Center City.

Born in Philadelphia, Mr. Henry graduated from West Philadelphia High School in 1954 and earned a swimming scholarship to what is now Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio, where he majored in physical education and recreation from 1954 to 1956. He earned a bachelor's degree in human services from Antioch University in 1983.

A daughter, Gina Henry, said that during summers from 1951 to 1956, Mr. Henry worked as a lifeguard at Kelly Pool next to Memorial Hall in Fairmount Park.

Returning to Philadelphia from Wilberforce, Mr. Henry became a coach and swim director at the Christian Street YMCA, where he worked from 1956 to 1958. From 1959 to 1961, he was a firefighter with the Philadelphia Fire Department.

His wife, Ruth, said he retired in July 1991 after 26 years with the Recreation Department.

In 1995, Mr. Henry was ordained a minister in Grace Tabernacle Church and became a lifestyle leader for its Men's Upper Room Fellowship.

As site-development committee chairman, he helped design the church in the Kingsessing neighborhood.

Mr. Henry had helped renovate several houses and was general contractor for construction of the church, which was completed in 2002.

In addition to his wife of 53 years and daughter, Mr. Henry is survived by his mother, Josephine; sons James III and Maynard; daughter Morgana Henry-Labrador; three brothers; a sister; and six grandchildren.

The viewing will be at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 28, at Grace Tabernacle Church, 509 S. 52d St., before a 10 a.m. funeral there. Burial will be in Westminster Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd.

Contact staff writer Walter F. Naedele at 215-854-5607 or wnaedele@phillynews.com.