James Williamson Emmenegger died on Dec. 30, 2022 at UCLA Santa Monica Hospital. Born on June 24, 1970 in Richmond, Virginia to William Francis Emmenegger and Patricia Ann Williamson, the family moved to Chicago before settling in Oak Park, where James graduated from Oak Park and River Forest High School in 1989.
At OPRF he was active in theater and was an aspiring actor who appeared in high school productions with Thomas Lennon (“Reno 911”). He continued his studies at Columbia College Chicago, where he also discovered his love of oil painting, graduating with a BFA. He participated in many group art shows, presenting works through the West Suburban Artist Guild with Triton College, and was included in the Oak Park Art Walk, Vortex. Patrons of Buzz Cafe of Oak Park may recognize paintings of his that hung in the cafe and were included in several group artist shows. In Los Angeles, he found success with his paintings featuring prominently in both television and film.
While he loved art and theater, he dreamed of being a musician. As a drummer, he played in various local punk bands such as Adolescent Minds, before playing raucous drums around the country with The Blacks, a popular mainstay of Chicago’s indie music scene, who were often featured at the Hideout Chicago Block Party and at their SXSW Stage showcase in Austin, Texas.
James moved back and forth between California and Illinois several times, raising his son, Bronco, in Oak Park, and always held a special place in his heart for his two homes. In 2019 he moved back to Ridgecrest, California to care for his mother.
James is survived by his son, James Bronco Ramòn Emmenegger; his mother, Patricia Ann Williamson; and former wife and mother of Bronco, Kristina Emmenegger. He was preceded in death by his father, William Frances Emmenegger.
A celebration of life with family and friends will be held in Chicago at a later date.