In Memoriam

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James Robertson ’51

October 31, 2016, in Ashland, Oregon.

A psychology professor at Southern Oregon University, James was a political activist who cared deeply for the environment and equal rights for women and children.

He was the son of Alice and James Robertson, attending Reed for only a year, where he lunched at commons with movers and shakers during the spring earthquake of 1949—a 7.1 centered outside Olympia, Washington.

“It was just about noon,” he recalled. “I was waiting in line for lunch, the place started shaking. It was like standing in a boat in choppy water. Everything was kind of rumbling and undulating, and there were exposed beams literally going back and forth, maybe three feet in each direction. My mother grew up in Southern California, and she always told me, ‘Find an archway to hide in.’ I don’t know where the rest of those kids went, but all of a sudden someone said, ‘All right, everybody, stand up and rush outside!’ They all rose up as one and rushed outside, except me. I was looking for an arch.”

He completed his BS in psychology at Portland State University and got an MS and an EdD at the University of Oregon, but claimed that Reed was “the best year of college I had. It gave me confidence in my own abilities and intelligence.” He remained a longtime supporter of the college.

A combat veteran of the Korean War, James also worked as a school psychologist in Longview, Washington, an elementary school teacher in Portland, and a supervisor of student teaching at Portland State University. He is survived by three daughters: Becky, Bonnie, and Barbara.

Appeared in Reed magazine: September 2017

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