James was born in Birmingham, Alabama on August 29, 1938. He is the son of Clyde and Fannie Carden. His father was employed in the asphalt paving business, requiring travel through out the southeast in the early 1940’s.
James returned to Calera, Alabama to attend high school, when his father took a job in South America in 1949. He graduated from Calera High School in 1956.
After serving three years in the U.S. Marine Corps he returned to Alabama to attend college at Alabama College then receiving his degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Alabama in 1964.
While at Alabama, he served as President of the Student Chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers.
After graduation, James was employed by the U.S.Army Corps of Engineers for two years. Returning to Calera in 1966 to join his father in starting Central Alabama Paving Company.
As the company grew, it received its first State contract for paving in 1967.
The company grew into a regional contractor serving mainly Shelby, Chilton and Bibb counties. During this time he served on the board of directors of the Alabama Asphalt Association, being elected its President in 1978. James also served on the Board of the Alabama Road Builders Association, being elected President in 1981.
In 1992, Central Alabama Paving was sold to Dunn Construction Company. Since then he has been retired.
He now serves on the Road Builders Hall of Fame Board, the Calera Industrial Board, and is also past President of Shelby County Economic and Industrial Development Authority and currently serves on the Board of Directors.
James and his wife Sabra have two daughters, Debra Ingram (Rick), Caryn DeOliveira (Jack), grandchildren Jake Ingram and Katie Ingram.