Chief (Dr.) Augustine Kole-James, a board certified internist who in 1996 founded the Pro-Care HMO, died March 24. He was 65.
Dr. Kole-James was born May 4, 1945 in Lagos, Nigeria to the late Chief Nicholas Kole-James and Elizabeth Kole-James.
From his father, Dr. Kole-James he learned to study and work for what he wanted, and to want only the best.
Dr. Kole-James decided to become a doctor after being treated for nearly-fatal double pneumonia by a Dublin-educated Nigerian doctor, Dr. Olumide, at age 10. He became motivated to study medicine and care for people just as he had been cared for. He became the first in his family to study medicine, and Dr. Olumide became his guide and mentor. Determination was his rule, and he read so much, other children called him a bookworm.
Dr. Kole-James was educated at the University of Ibadan, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Physiology. In 1971, he emigrated to the United States to continue his studies. He enrolled at Columbia University, where he majored in pharmacy, and graduated in three years instead of four.
He also received a full scholarship to pursue his doctoral degree at Wayne State University. He graduated with honors as a doctor of pharmacy in 1976.
Dr. Kole-James was accepted at five medical schools, and decided to attend New York SUNY Downstate University, where he received his MD in 1981. He completed his residency in internal medicine and became a diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine, American Board of Clinical Internal Medicine, American Board of Managed Care Medicine, Fellow, Royal College of Physicians (USA) and Fellow, American College of Physicians.
He began his private medical practices in 1981 and opened Professional Medical Centers in 1984. His practice consists of five multi-specialty clinics in Detroit.
Dr. Kole-James was a visionary and wanted to treat the whole person while being sure everyone had access to affordable, excellent medical care. To that end, he establinhed Pro-Care Health Plan. In 2004, he established Pro Care Plus, Inc., which provided health care services to Wayne County residents.
He was a member of Sacred Heart Catholic Church, and attended regular services.
He was appointed by the governor to a number of committees, including the Medicaid Liaison Committee, MSIMS, and Quality Effectiveness Committee.
He also received the Doctor Recognition Award from Mercy Hospital and the Merit Award by the Association of Poverty Adjudication Beneficiaries of Nigeria. He belonged to several organizations in the US and Nigeria, including membership in the AMA, MSMS, WCMS, DMS, ACP, ASIM, NMA and ANPA.
Among his many affiliations, he was chairman of the board of directors of the Nigerian Foundation of Michigan and vice chair of the African World Expo (leading three trade missions to Nigeria). In 2009, he was bestowed the chieftancy title of Asiwaju Basegun of Egbaland at Music Hall in Detroit. He was recognized by those he taught and served as an outstanding example of excellence and compassion.
He often traveled back and forth to Nigeria with his wife, Robin, to help people there. He never lost track of the land and the blood that made him who he was.
His favorite activities wer dining out, dancing and traveling.
He is survived by his wife, Robin; sons, Kishawn and Kori; siblings, nieces, nephews and many others.
Interment took place at Elmwood Cemetery. Arrangements were handled by Swanson Funeral Home.