Amherst Magazine

James Allen Krick '62

Submitted by Craig H. Morgan

From The Olio

krick JAMES ALLEN KRICK
3701 Ordway Street NW, Washington, DC
Prepared at Woodrow Wilson HIgh School
Biology
Delta Kappa Epsilon
Golf "1962", 2 "A", 3

James Allen (Jim) Krick '62 died October 10, 1990.
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From Our Reunion Book ---

Jim Krick was more mature when he came to Amherst than many of us who knew him.  His eye was on medical school for most of his underclass days. During senior year, he became absorbed in a biology research project, which he talked about with obvious pride. He learned much from this project, which was under the direction of, Russell Doolittle, a talented young investigator fresh from Harvard. Although Jim didn’t study more than others while at Amherst, he did seem to study more efficiently. He was an avid bridge player and played on the Golf team, and ranked in the top six. The only area where he was less mature was in poker; he played too trustingly and could be bluffed. Yet, he could not be intimidated, especially by faculty, whom he did not view with the same awe that many of us did, nor did he give them the deference that was standard prior to the student demonstrations of the sixties. Doolittle, who found Jim to be a “remarkably bright guy,” put it this way in an e-mail, “Jim had a rather casual style that not all of my colleagues appreciated.”

An example: A series of seminars led by students was held in fraternities, an innovation watched over by a somewhat controlling professor who shall go nameless. Jim attended the session held at the Deke house and asked a question of the presenters that seemed relatively mild to fellow students, but apparently bothered Professor X, who approached Jim afterward. The audio details of the exchange are lost, but Jim did not appear to give any ground. Subsequently, Jim learned that Professor X had not been satisfied with the discussion and had approached the faculty medical school advisor, not in a positive way, asking for permission to add a few sentences to the recommendation for Jim that would soon go out to medical schools from the college. The med-school advisor laughed off the request and did nothing, which was a fortunate response for Jim’s career and for those patients he later helped directly as a physician and indirectly as a medical researcher.

His research with Doolittle helped Jim obtain a one-year position in Paris in a lab working on a similar project, which led to his first publication, a French journal article on fibrin and blood coagulation disorders. Jim was first author. Next, he attended Cornell Medical School, with a subsequent residency in Decatur, Georgia. Then, came a three-year tour in the military in Germany, where he met his future wife, Ilse, a nurse at 30th Field Hospital. As she tells it, he asked her out to dinner the first day she was on the job. They married in 1973 and produced two children,  Kirsten and Daniel.. Kirsten now has a daughter of her own, Caroline, who Jim, unfortunately, never got to see.

Jim’s prior research experience, started at Amherst with Doolittle, helped him attain a fellowship to Stanford in 1972 in the laboratory of Jack Remington, where Jim’s scientific and clinical work blossomed. According to Remington, who co-authored numerous papers with Jim,

“Jim became interested in infections that occur in patients with immune systems severely compromised, including patients who had received heart transplants, who had cancer, and who were receiving immunosuppressive therapy for a variety of underlying diseases. He was especially interested in the diagnosis and treatment of fungal infections in those people.  He wrote a definitive article on toxoplasmosis in the adult ...  He became an authority on the histopathology of toxoplasmosis in the brain.”
On the personal level, Remington told us,
“Jim was a passionate, marvelous person, liked by all who came in contact with him.  He was a compassionate and caring physician, a superb teacher.  One of the finest intellects I came across in my years at Stanford.”
We learned more about Jim’s career from a published tribute to him, written by one of his colleagues, John Swartzberg:
“Jim Krick had a most interesting mind. Certainly, no one would question his brilliance. While a fellow in Jack Remington's laboratory during the early 1970s, he published a number of important papers…that moved our understanding a step forward. …His paper on the treatment of Nocardia asteroides in the Journal of the American Medical Association immediately became widely quoted and foundational.”
In Swartzberg’s tribute, we also gained some possible insight into his earlier stormy relationships with some faculty at Amherst.:
“…..Jim could not help asking "why" to just about everything. He especially challenged dogma. To him, there were no sacred cows.”

After his fellowship with Remington, Jim completed the last year of his internal medicine residency at San Francisco's Mount Zion Hospital. Afterward, Jim started an infectious diseases practice in Walnut Creek, California, where he remained for the rest of his career. He consulted on patients with infectious disease problems as well as patients with most any type of diagnostic or therapeutic puzzle. Along with Swartzberg, he started the East Bay Infectious Disease Society (EBIDS) in 1977.

All was not professional during this period. In addition to being a devoted husband, Jim was now a father, and by all accounts loving, caring, and ever-present. He, Ilse, and the kids now did everything as a family--trips, sporting expeditions, and assorted adventures. He attended all the children's school and sports events, introduced them to golf, sailing, and skiing, and recruited them to work with him in the garden, where he showed them how to dig elephant holes to keep the elephants away.  The holes worked--a family joke that has endured.  Every morning, Jim would tell the kids as they left for school, "Illegitimi non carborundum." (mock Latin for "Don't let the bastards wear you down").  To round out his domesticity, Jim became an excellent, innovative, and adventurous cook.  He also developed another interest---running.

All of this was taken away by a rare form of dementia that hit Jim in his late forties. He died a few years later, in 1990, having led a full life, albeit far too short, during which he cared for and saved the lives of many others.

---Jan Beyea ‘61



Vanags
Daniel, Jim, and Kirsten Krick