Amherst Magazine

James A. Michener '41

Only recently did the College receive word that Jim had died in July of 2005, apparently at a retirement community south of Washington, DC, where he had been living for several years.  His wife of fifty-six years, Kathryn Winthrop Cole Michener, had died August 22, 1996, a day short of Jim’s seventy-ninth birthday.  Jim was born in Harrisburg, PA, in 1917 and graduated from Harrisburg Academy before matriculating at Amherst where he was a member of Beta Theta Pi and an English major. He ran middle distances in track as well as cross-country.  He was a member of the Outing Club and the Speakers’ Club.

Shortly after graduating from Amherst, Jim was a marine, an officer candidate (USMC Platoon Leaders) US Marine Corps.  He attained the rank of lieutenant August 16, 1941, and was a member of the 3rd Marine Division.  He was in all the World War II campaigns in the Central and South Pacific: Guadacanal, Bougainville, the recapture of Guam, Iwo Jima.  In 1948 he integrated into the regular Marine Corps.  He served a year in Korea, returning with the 3rd Battalion, 7th Regiment as commanding officer to Camp Pendleton, CA, when the First Marine Division was returned to the Continent in April, 1955.  Due to glaucoma, Jim retired from military service as a lieutenant colonel on July 1, 1955.

Jim earned a masters degree in personnel management from George Washington Univ. in Washington in 1955, and from 1962 to 1964, he served as director of Person DC.  He taught social studies at public schools in Fairfax County, VA, from 1964 to the time of his retirement in 1983 but continued his avocations of golf, fishing, and hiking while continuing to be active in the local Lions Club, Masonic Lodge, and serving as a deacon in the Trinity Presbyterian Church.

A proud moment:  As commanding officer, Officers’ Candidate School, he commissioned 859 US Marine lieutenants of the “10th Special Basic Class” on ONE DAY, September 7, 1951. This record number of commissioning for ONE DAY has never been duplicated nor is likely to be in the foreseeable future.

—Henry B. Prickitt ’41

 

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