Reuben James, 88; Chaired SUNY Physics Department


Reuben James, 88; Chaired

SUNY Physics Department

Reuben James

ONEONTA – Word has been received that Dr. Reuben James, Ph.D. Ed.D., age 88, died Jan. 18, 2021. He was a SUNY Oneonta physics professor from 1960 to 1997, including 12 years as department chairman.

Reuben was valedictorian of his high school class, and graduated from SUNY Potsdam and St. Lawrence University.  He then attended Clarkson, University of Pennsylvania, and SUNY Buffalo.

He taught science and math in a three Upstate high schools between 1954 and 1960. He joined SUNY Oneonta in 1960, taught physics, biophysics, solar energy and engineering, and headed the 3-2 Engineering Program with R.P.I. and R.I.T.

He was also an adviser to his students until his retirement and continued to teach part time after his retirement.

During his years in Oneonta he was involved in the National Science Teachers Association, then became National President of Sigma Pi Sigma (Society of Physics Students).

A devout Roman Catholic, he served as an altar boy up to the day before he entered college. He became a eucharistic minister, an usher, taught Catechism classes, joined the Knights of Columbus, rising to Fourth Degree Knight and serving at Grand Knight and other offices of the Local #4989 Council.

As a child and young man he enjoyed the Explorer Boy Scouts.

At home Reuben was a devoted husband and father and grandfather, an avid gardener, loved playing sports, especially with his children, basketball, baseball, softball, down hill and cross-country skiing, golfing, swimming, and tennis.  He also coached Little League and Soccer. He earned his pilot’s license at the Sidney Airport, and enjoyed flying with his family.

Reuben is survived by his loving wife of 46 years, Mary Ann Packer Fitzpatrick James, his children, Kevin, Kathleen and her husband Fred, Sean and his wife Juli, and Ann and her husband Dan. Also eight grandchildren, a sister, Keitha, a brother in the Franciscan order, Brother Richard O.F.M., and several nieces and nephews.

Reuben is predeceased by his parents, John and Jennie James, an infant brother, Paul, his sister, Mary, and one granddaughter.

A funeral mass will be prayed and followed by a burial at the convenience of the family.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Alzheimer’s Association, at The Meadows,140 Highway 33 West, Cooperstown, N.Y. 13326, or in Dr. James’ memory, to the College at Oneonta Foundation, Office of College Advancement, SUNY Oneonta, N.Y. 13820.

To leave a condolence for the family online, please visit

Arrangements are by the Lester R. Grummons Funeral Home, Oneonta.

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