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James J. Walsh ’49

James Jerome Walsh ’49, February 24, 2003, in Suffern, New York. After his first year at Reed, James entered the U.S. Army, and was stationed in Italy with the 34th Signal Corps. From there he addressed his continued interest in the college in a letter to Professor Rex Arragon [history 1923–62; 1970–74]: "We, all of us, had a vision there, and I am sure that those of us who have seen a few of the bases of life in cold reality hold what we saw and did and hoped there as all-important. Certainly I do." James returned to Reed, and graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and history. He went to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, and earned a second BA in history in 1951. His MA from Oxford in 1956 was also in history, and he earned a fellowship to Columbia University, from which he received his PhD in philosophy in 1960. James retired from Columbia in 1990 as an emeritus professor of philosophy. At Columbia, his teaching career was dotted with fellowships. For 18 years he worked as director, and 7 as chairman, of Columbia’s graduate studies. Additionally he served as editor of the Journal of Philosophy, published numerous articles, and was on the executive committee of the Society for Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy. His education, career, and personal goals were supported in their entirety by his wife, Carol Jean Paton Walsh ’49, with whom he enjoyed the full extent of life’s experiences, including raising two sons, and traveling and hiking, until 1998, when the rare Parkinson’s disease she had developed required that she live in a nursing facility. At the end of his life, James was devoted to the care of Carol; he wrote haiku and painted; and he observed the wildlife near his home in Suffern, or sat a lot "with the encouragement of Phil Whalen [’51]." Walsh maintained contact with faculty and other members of the Reed community, and particularly sought to honor Edwin Garlan [philosophy 1946–73] in the classroom, the coffee shop, and in his home. James wrote, "The Reed ethos (including the unconventional lifestyle) does not proceed without its pains and problems, but they are worthwhile."

Appeared in Reed magazine: August 2003

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