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James T. Whitehead

I forget the source of this one. May have been NW Arkansas Times. cb

August 17, 2003

James T. Whitehead

Fayetteville, Ark.

James Tillotson Whitehead, 67, died Friday, August 15, 2003, at Washington Regional Medical Center, of a ruptured aortic aneurism. A visitation will be held at Moore's Chapel in Fayetteville, Ark. on Tuesday, from 6-8 p.m. with family present. A memorial service will be held at Giffels Auditorium in Old Main at the University of Arkansas campus on Wednesday, at 2 p.m. A reception will follow.

He was born on March 15, 1936 in St. Louis, Mo., to Dick Bruun Whitehead and Ruth Ann Tillotson. He married Guendaline Graeber on August 15, 1959 and together they raised seven children, including a set of triplets.

Jim grew up in Mississippi, graduating from Jackson's Central High. He attended Vanderbilt University on a football scholarship where he received a BA in Philosophy and an MA in English. He then earned a MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Iowa. Together with Miller Williams and William Harrison, Jim founded the nationally acclaimed Creative Writing program at the University of Arkansas where he taught for 35 years.

Jim's literary awards included a Guggenheim Fellowship in Fiction and a Robert Frost Fellowship in Poetry. His publications include four books of poetry, Domains, Local Men, Actual Size, and Near at Hand; and a novel, Joiner, which was on the New York Time's Noteworthy Books of the Year list for 1971. He gave the Presentation Poem for President Jimmy Carter on his return to Plains, Georgia, in 1981, and later edited President Carter's book of poems. Never less than intense, Big Jim, as he was known to his friends, would in one animated conversation expound upon the poetry of W.B. Yeats, the paintings of Vermeer, the dead lying in Flanders Fields, the theology of St. Augustine, the prospects for the Razorback's upcoming season, and his hopes of the 2004 Democratic contenders. At the time of his death, Jim was completing a screenplay on the life of the First Century Roman soldier Tiberius Julius Abderus Pantera.

Of all his many accomplishments, he was most proud of his family. Survivors include: his wife of 44 years, Gen; seven children and their spouses, Bruun Whitehead and Kim Willis of Annandale, Va., Dr. Kathleen W. Paulson and George P. Paulson of Fayetteville, Ark., Eric T. and Jennifer Whitehead of Overland Park, Kan., Joan and John Threet of Fayetteville, Ark., Ted and Kelley Whitehead of Fayetteville, Ark., Ruth and Kevin Trainor of Fayetteville, Ark., and Philip and Kamron Whitehead of Fayetteville, Ark.; ten grandchildren, Eleni C. and George Bourland Paulson, ages 14 and 19, of Fayetteville, Ark., Jack and Anna Threet, ages 7 and 4, of Fayetteville, Ark., Rayner and Henley Whitehead, ages 3 and 3 months of Fayetteville, Ark., Collin Whitehead, age 3, of Fayetteville, Ark., Nina Whitehead, age 3 of Annandale, Garrett Whitehead, age 2 of Overland Park, and Emma Trainor, age 2 of Fayetteville, Ark.; a brother, Jared Whitehead, of Marietta, Ga., and an aunt, Jean Davis of Wauwatosa, Wis.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to either "Writers in the Schools" or the Creative Writing Program at the University of Arkansas, c/o Molly Giles, English Department, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701.

October 2, 2003 in Obituaries | Permalink


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