University of Chicago Alumnus Alice James, resident of The Admiral by the Lake, Chicago, died on December 10, 2017.
James was born April 5, 1919 and grew up near Pasadena, CA. After graduating from the University of California, Berkeley, she came to Chicago to study at the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration and, subsequently, became a decades-long resident of Hyde Park.
When still in California, James had run a small catering business and she brought her formidable cooking skills to Chicago. In 1982, Linda Swift and her then 15-month old son were invited to James’ for lunch. While Linda can’t remember what she and James ate, she clearly remembers that James had fixed crab mousse for the almost-toothless Daniel! But it was for her professional skill in the field of Social Work and for her community involvements that James was most admired. She worked at both the Juvenile Protective Association and Children’s Home and Aid Society of Illinois (CHASI) at a time when agencies were professionalizing their services.
Dorothy Scheff, a colleague of James’ at CHASI, remembers James as a strong and thoughtful woman who was twice selected to lead the agency as the Interim Director. She was also in the forefront of efforts to accommodate professional working women, adapting schedules and offering flex time before that name or opportunity had become widely available.
After retiring from CHASI in the early 1980s, James became more involved with local organizations. She started as a volunteer at the Oriental Institute in 1984. In 1993 she assumed a leadership role, serving as a volunteer captain.
“She was a valued member of the OI volunteer community and served as an excellent Ambassador for the Institute,” stated Terry Friedman, a friend and associate of James’ for many years.
Mary Duplain served on the Board of the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club with James. She knew James as a woman with a sharp mind, a person equally willing to mix the batter at the annual Pancake Breakfast or help write new By-Laws and recruit capable board members.
James will be missed by members of the University of Chicago Service League as well as friends and residents of The Admiral, where she was known by many and admired for her cheerfully feisty personality. She had suffered from dementia for over 15 years but maintained an almost-entirely positive attitude toward her surroundings and those caring for her.
No service was held. Memorial gifts may be sent to the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club, 5480 S. Kenwood Ave., 60615.