School 14

James Walter Tubbs

March 18, 1948 ~ January 3, 2024 (age 75) 75 Years Old
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James Tubbs Obituary

James Walter Tubbs, age 75, passed away after a long illness, at the Aurora Health Center in Two Rivers, Wisconsin on Wednesday, January 3, 2024.

Jim was born in Florida to the late Mary and Willard Tubbs. Jim’s family moved frequently, which was a practice he continued throughout his life. By the time he was in Jr High he had lived in five states. By the time he was 75 he had lived in fifteen different states and twenty-three locations. Often living in more than one location per state.

As a child Jim worked hard on the farms his father managed. They had no running water or outdoor toilets in most of the places they lived, and they plowed the fields with a mule. He spent long hours in the fields harvesting cucumbers and other produce, but he particularly hated cucumbers, because they were hard to grow and hard to pick, and he refused to eat them as an adult.

Jim loved to learn and loved his teachers. When he was supposed to say goodbye to his eighth-grade teacher, prior to one of the family moves, he hid, because he didn’t want her to see him cry. He loved to read and often read a book a day. Early on it was discovered he had an IQ close to 200.

Jim graduated from Fayetteville High School in 1966. He attended college in Michigan and Indiana. His college studies were interrupted when he was drafted. He served as a medic in Vietnam 1970-1971. He enjoyed visits to an orphanage for Vietnamese children. The orphanage was bombed before he left Vietnam, and many of the children he knew were killed. While there he was exposed to Agent Orange, which may have caused his disabilities later in life.

He started writing to his wife, Virginia, while in Vietnam. They met for the first time at a church service soon after his discharge. They were married in California in 1972. For the honeymoon the two of them backpacked in the high sierras.

Jim resumed his studies, graduating from Indiana University with a double major in English Literature and Political Science. He received the Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from the IU School of Law in 1975. After law school they lived briefly in California and Idaho. He subsequently practiced law in Washington and New Jersey.

Jim was a brilliant lawyer who won practically all the cases he tried. However, he decided his interests were in academia, and he enrolled at Johns Hopkins University. He was given a full scholarship. JHU was located near an “urban jungle” of Baltimore. Drugs and thugs were rampant. Once he came across a mugger, armed with a knife, robbing an elderly woman. He disarmed and subdued the mugger. His military training and lighting reflexes kept him safe. While at JHU he often traveled to the Library of Congress in Washington DC to participate in think tanks. He received his PhD in political philosophy and public law from JHU in 1990 and was given the Edward S. Corwin Award for the best dissertation in the United States in the field of public law.

Jim taught at Virginia Tech, the University of Vermont, and the University of Wisconsin. His publications include a book, The Common Law Mind, Medieval and Early Modern Conceptions, and law journal articles. He used the socratic method of instruction, asking students questions to encourage them to think. He received many teaching commendations and awards. Even though he was a demanding teacher he was popular with his students.

Jim was an intellectual who loved to read, study, and teach. He was a liberal who kept a close eye on the political scene. He read a wide range of literature, but especially enjoyed science fiction. He could most often be found reading with a cat beside him. He and Virginia always had cats, usually two or three, but at one point six. He liked classical and bluegrass music and old movies. He was an ardent fan of IU Hoosiers basketball.

After Jim retired he was ready to move again. He scoured the web for houses for sale in the south, where he lived as a child, but finally found a suitable house near Lake Michigan. The first year after the move he had many health problems and started dialysis. By Christmas 2023 the dialysis was no longer working. He was diagnosed with his second case of COVID January 2, 2024.

Survivors include his wife of 51 years, nephews: Ben, Dustin, Joshua and Keaton and other relatives. He is also survived by his dog: Ted, and his cat: Dory. James was preceded in death by his parents, his two brothers: Benjamin and Willard, and one niece: Christin. He also had three dogs and quite a few cats that have since passed on.

As per James request there will be no funeral or memorial service, and his ashes will be scattered in Lake Michigan.

You can honor his life with donations to Feed My People or The Environmental Defense Fund.

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