Campus remembers late professor

Wilkes University Professor of Anthropology and Sociology Jim Merryman died on April 14 at the end of a battle with ALS.


Though his illness had progressively gotten more severe, Merryman is remembered by colleagues and students fondly.


“Losing any member of our Wilkes family is difficult,” President Leahy said in a written statement. “Jim’s long tenure at Wilkes and his enduring commitment to his family, his students, his colleagues and his discipline, make this a deep loss for all of us to absorb.”


Dr. Michael Garr, professor of sociology and anthropology, described his colleague as “passionate.”


“He’d been here for 25 years and he was part of everyday life here,” Garr said. A great man — great stature [and] great character.”


Garr noted Merryman’s drive to learn new things, referencing how he taught himself saxaphone and piano to start a jazz quartet, and how he enrolled in the creative writing master’s program.


Garr also mentioned Merryman’s dedication to teaching, and how he was still teaching online classes when the illness took away his ability to speak.


Colleen O’Callaghan, a junior communication studies major, had Merryman for one of these online classes.


“He was very passionate about his work,” she recalled. “He really wanted to learn more about other people and was so interested in what he did.”


“This is very sad news,” said Wilkes alumnus Michael Beachem in a Facebook comment. “Many alum will recall Nancy [his wife] and Jim always led the dancing at any Homecoming or Senior Week Dance. He will be missed greatly.”

Campus Counseling/Health and Wellness Services will be offering an Open Grief Counseling Session from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 21, 2015 in Marts Center Room 214.  This session is open to anyone who has experienced a loss through death. Merryman’s memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 2 in the Dorothy Dickson Darte auditorium.