Deceased September 22, 2018
Jim died on Sept. 22 at the age of 85 with his family at his side. He was born in Pittsburgh and graduated from Episcopal Academy in Philadelphia in 1950. At Amherst, Jim majored in economics and joined Delta Upsilon. As a member of the wrestling team from our freshman year on, Jim was a consistent and highly skilled member of an outstanding team that I also had the luck to participate in. When the College dropped wrestling in 1989. I shared Jim’s dismay at the elimination of a grand tradition and a source of great personal growth for all of us who grappled. When the sport reemerged as a club team a few years ago, we both applauded the effort.
After Amherst, Jim served in the Marine Corps until 1965, attaining the rank of captain. In his notes for our 50th reunion class book, Jim reflected on the wisdom of his decision not to accept a regular commission, since he well might have ended as a casualty in Vietnam. In 1961 he earned his M.A. in public administration from George Washington University. For 25 years he served as a Washington bureaucrat, as he wrote, again in the reunion book, “trying to understand the mess we are still making of our health care system.” (Sound familiar?)
Reflecting on the Amherst experience, Jim acknowledges that “we were privileged to be at Amherst” in our day and treasures the “foundation” laid then that “has been with us all these years.”
In retirement Jim and his wife moved to Bradenton, Fla. He was very active with the Episcopal Church as head usher, and as senior warden of the vestry. He is survived by his wife, Elyse; three children: Paul, Jeffrey and Debra; five grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; and two sisters.
Tom Blackburn ’54