Deceased February 13, 2023
Jim came to Amherst from Episcopal Academy in Philadelphia. He was one of only two in our class who were in the “3-2” program, whereby a person spent three years at Amherst and two at MIT in order to earn a B.A. and a B.S. simultaneously, which Jim did in 1960. At Amherst, Jim was an economics major and a Psi U. Two of his highlights were helping Dan Bixler ’55 and friends show off Sabrina and tobogganing with lady friends from the War Memorial to the fields below. At MIT, he majored in mechanical engineering.
From 1956 to 1958, Jim served in the Army, where he was assigned to the Pentagon doing cryptography. After receiving those degrees, Jim joined IBM, for which he worked for 31 years. His first assignment was as a field rep working on Polaris submarines. He was the sole civilian on the first Pacific war patrol. He was on numerous sea and launch trials at Cape Canaveral / Kennedy. After retiring from IBM, Jim served as a consultant for a company that replaced the throughput focus of management with employee empowerment.
In our 50th reunion booklet, Jim related two stressful experiences. The first was the rescue of a nephew from the Children of God cult in Montreal in 1976. The second was, while in the Army, learning how to bayonet people and avoid death by mines!
Reflecting on his time at Amherst, Jim said the College “made us focus on not what we were but what we might become … as positive contributors to our communities.”
Jim’s son Johnathan reported that his father died on Feb. 13, 2023. He said, “Jim lived a joyful, adventurous and interesting life. He has touched all of us with his kindness, grace and understanding in one way or another.”
Rob Sowersby ’55