Wood Rustic 07

James Alexander

March 22, 1942 ~ May 19, 2021 (age 79)

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In Loving Memory


James Crew Alexander

James.  Jay.  Jim.  Dad.  PopPop.  Husband.  Father.  Grandfather.  Brother.  Uncle.  Friend.  Mathematician.  Professor.  Researcher.  Teacher.  Colleague.  Athlete.  Sports Fan.  Traveler.  Author.  Reader.  Genealogist.  Cook.  Comedian.  Jokester.  Outwitter.


It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of James (Jay/Jim) Crew Alexander, beloved husband, father, grandfather, brother and uncle on May 19, 2021 at the age of 79.  James is survived by his wife, Rosemary Alexander; his daughters, Stacey Sperry and Blythe Alexander; his grandchildren, Alexa and Lucia Sperry; his sister, Jean Small; his niece and nephew, Kalen Edwards and Douglas Small; and grandniece and grandnephew, Dalen and Bennett Small. He was preceded in death by his parents and his brother, John Alexander.

James was born in Ohio on March 22, 1942 to James E. Alexander and Jean (Crew) Alexander, and grew up in Ohio, Minnesota and Pennsylvania. He graduated from Mount Lebanon High School in Pittsburgh, PA in 1960. James was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Johns Hopkins University in 1964, and a member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. He continued at Johns Hopkins to earn his Ph.D. in Mathematics in 1968. In 1969, he joined the Department of Mathematics faculty at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD). While at UMD, he also served as Program Officer at the National Science Foundation (NSF) for a time. In 1998, he left UMD to join the Mathematics and Cognitive Science Departments at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) until 2008 where he was Levi Kerr Professor and Department Chair of Mathematics and Chair of CWRU’s Faculty Senate. After retiring from CWRU, he worked again as a Program Officer at NSF until fully retiring in 2012. In 2014, a former UMD Ph.D. student of James’, endowed the James C. Alexander Prize for Graduate Research in Mathematics in his honor.

James met his wife Rosemary in 1971, and they were married on April 1, 1972. With his wife, he took two academic sabbaticals, moving to Mexico City, Mexico in 1974, and then to Bonn, (West) Germany in 1978. James and Rosemary raised their two daughters in Ellicott City, MD, before moving on for some years to Ohio, Virginia, and then back to Maryland. 

James was a devoted father, doting grandfather, and adored his wife. He enjoyed taking his wife on dates for most of their 50 years together, frequently attending the theater, concerts and lectures. James and Rosemary also enjoyed many trips together traveling the world. He was a life-long learner, an avid reader, played golf, badminton, tennis, and softball, as well as coached youth softball. After he retired, he learned and enjoyed cooking. His sense of humor, wit, charm, and ability to craft a good joke carried on throughout his last days. 

At this time, because of the pandemic, no memorial service is planned. James has donated his body to both the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and to the Maryland State Anatomy Board. His family would appreciate anyone who wants to share memories, photos or videos about James to email them to ProfJcAlex@gmail.com for the family’s private memory book collection. 

In lieu of flowers, please donate to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in his name.

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