The University of North Carolina Herbarium (NCU)
has catalogued approximately 1770 of Fred James’ specimens. The vast majority
were collected in Virginia as the basis of his doctoral thesis on the woody
flora of that state. With only about
10% of the collection catalogued, no doubt more specimens collected by him
will be found.
Fred James was born in Long Beach, Los Angeles
County, California, the son of Charles and Caroline Jicha James.1
He is a member of the Virginia High School Hall of Fame for scoring 83 points
in a single basketball game (Churchland vs.
Poquoson on 19 February 1954), a record that has been broken only by Johnny
Morris in 1961 with 127 points.2 He earned his undergraduate
degree from East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. James earned his Ph.D. in 1969 at the University
of North Carolina at Chapel Hill under the direction of Dr. Al Radford. The title of James’ thesis was “The woody
flora of Virginia.”
He taught at Westmar College in LeMars, Iowa
for two years, then began is long association with Presbyterian College in
Clinton, South Carolina. He taught at
Presbyterian College for 31 years, and was twice selected as Professor of the
Year (1982 and 2002). James led the
inaugural “Maymester” course of five students to Puerto Rico in 1972. “We were gone for 21 days, and the cost for
the entire trip was $350… We had experts in frog calls, tropical forestry,
tropical vegetation, and marine biologists join us on our trip… These
[travel] experiences get the student out of the classroom into real-life
situations. It allows them to
experience other cultures and to realize how our problems often pale when
considered next to those experienced by other people. As a teacher I can’t return to the campus
as the same person. I have witnessed
students become excited about exploring other overseas experiences. That, in turn, has allowed me to bring new
adventures into the classroom which I personally experienced and not just
read about in a book.”5 James went on to lead field trips to the
Virgin Islands, the Bahamas, Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands, Africa, and
Dr. Jim Massey, Curator Emeritus of the
University of North Carolina Herbarium remembers, “Fred was an outstanding
teacher both as a graduate student and later as a professor. I remember seeing him with his students
when they visited the Herbarium and thought if Fred said to line up and jump
out the 4th floor of Coker Hall they would all want to know if
they could go first.”4
Dr. Fred James with Presbyterian College student, Lara Collier
(class of 1993)
Photo courtesy of Presbyterian College archives
G. Ansley Wallace wrote, “During examination
of herbarium specimens for a biosystematic study of the woody Smilax species of the United States,
several specimens were found in collections from California that represent a
hitherto unnoticed species of herbaceous Smilax
Torrey). It is with great pleasure
that I name this species in honor of Dr. Fred James of Presbyterian College,
Clinton, South Carolina, who first sparked my interest in botany while an
instructor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.”3 The
holotype of Smilax jamesii , collected by Oettinger & Thorne in Siskiyou
County in 1969, is held by RSA.
Smilax jamesii G. Wallace
Photograph by Sheli Wingo;
used with permission
James, the Pulaski L. Bealy Smith Professor of
Biology, retired from Presbyterian College in 2002, and died in Columbia, South Carolina on 19 July
2002. He was survived by his wife,
Joanna Hardee James, and daughters, Donna Davis and Julie James.
On October 26, 2002, the Presbyterian College
Board of Trustees announced that a scholarship to enable faculty and students
to share off-campus learning experiences would be established in James’ honor
and that the greenhouse would be named in his honor. In November 2002 Fred James was named the
2002-2003 South Carolina Professor of the year by the Council for the
Advancement & Support of Education based in Washington, D.C.
James and students on
South Carolina coast (pre-1983)
Photo courtesy of Presbyterian College Archives
Obituary: Dr. Frederick C. James.
The Greenville News, July 21, 2001.
School League Book of Records, 17th Ed. 2011-2012, Mike McCall,
ed. Charlottesville, Va.: Virginia High School League, Pub. Pg. 13. http://www.vhsl.org/doc/upload/pub-vhsl-recordbook-june-2012.pdf
Wallace, G. Ansley
(1979) An overlooked new species of Smilax (Smilacaceae) from northern
California. Brittonia 31(3): 416-421.
communication, email between McCormick and J. Massey 18 June 2012.
(2000) A quarter-century of learning
in “Life’s Laboratory: PC’s biology
Maymester trips have made science a hands-on activity.” Presbyterian College Magazine 53(3): 36-43.