Deceased November 21, 2013
Great Grandpa Jim—as his extended family called the beloved Jim Smeallie—passed away Nov. 21, 2013, a peaceful end to a long struggle with cancer. Unable to attend our 60th Reunion, he worked as co-chairman with George Edmonds from the start, making a difference, especially in the planning stage. Notes, Sandy Riley, our compassionate alumni office liaison, "Jim was such a dear sweet man. I am so glad I had the chance to work with him, no matter how brief the time. He always had a smile on his face and great love in his heart for the Class of 1953."
In fact, Jim was one of the kindest, smartest members of our class, a magna cum laude biology major. Much about him—his history, character, legacy, passion for music, deep love of family, anecdotal skills, gardening and opera—outpoured at an emotional memorial service in South Windsor, highlighted by a magnificent family-effort eulogy.
Jim grew up in Amsterdam, N.Y., where he first tested his beautiful tenor voice in a boys' choir. At Amherst, he honed his musical skills in the college band (sousaphone), the glee club and—most important—as one of the first members of the Zumbyes. After Amherst, Jim completed U.S. Navy OCS and was stationed on a destroyer out of Newport, R.I. His professional career included 27 years with Connecticut Mutual Life, a golden handshake in 1985, freeing him for more family time and volunteer work. Jim always wanted to make a difference and did.
A hopeless romantic, Jim's only marriage was to Barbara "Tommy" Thompson, his high-school sweetheart and mother of their two daughters, Anne and Jane. Tragically, Tommy died in 1993. Devastated but stoic, Jim moved forward to become one of the first great-grandfathers in our class, a position in which he took immense pride.
We extend our deep condolences and gratitude to the entire Smeallie family.
Philip W. Ransom Jr. '53