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James Welsh(1938 - 2013)

James M. Welsh

Salisbury-James M. Welsh, professor emeritus of English at Salisbury University, died Thursday, October 3, at his home, following a year-long struggle with cancer.

Born July 15, 1938, in Logansport, IN, he was the son of the late James and Ione Williams Welsh. He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Anne; two daughters, Katherine Elizabeth Ideker of Atlanta and Emily Ione Welsh of Washington, D.C.; and two grandchildren, Erin and Kellen Ideker of Atlanta.

Dr. Welsh is remembered for his pioneering spirit in the fields of adaptation studies, literature and film; as a supportive teacher and colleague; and as a prolific scholar who wrote or co-authored some 24 books, contributed to many more, and penned hundreds of essays and reviews. He continued to research and write during his illness and was reviewing the work of Douglas Fairbanks for a new book prior to his death.

Dr. Welsh earned his Bachelor of Arts in English from Indiana University and his Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy with honors from the University of Kansas, where he was a researcher for famed Shakespearean scholar Charlton Hinman. Professor Welsh's first love was Shakespeare; he co-authored the book Shakespeare into Film, and lectured on the Bard throughout his career.

Dr. Welsh joined the English faculty at SU in 1971 and two years later, with colleague Tom Erskine, co-founded the academic journal Literature/Film Quarterly, which is now read around the world. A labor of love, he served as its editor for over 30 years. He was founding president of the Literature/Film Association. As a board member, he helped organize tributes to such cinematic luminaries as Frank Capra, Francis Ford Coppola, Bette Davis, James Stewart, James Cagney and King Vidor. He interviewed and profiled some of the most interesting filmmakers of the 20th century including Ken Russell, Kevin Brownlow, Terrence Davies, Peter Watkins, Tony Richardson and Oliver Stone, among others.

A popular speaker at international conferences and winner of two Fulbright awards, one of the most esteemed academic honors, he delighted in exposing his students to international study, leading several trips abroad with his wife. He also nurtured the arts in Maryland and the Eastern Shore, hosting programs on Maryland Public Television, WSCL public radio and WBOC-TV on topics as varied as the films of the Gatsby era, local arts and artists, and jazz. He produced an International Film Series for the campus and greater community, and encouraged his students and colleagues to pursue film scholarship.

One of his proudest achievements was an outreach program he established with the support of SU President Thom Bellavance, which brought Romanian students to Salisbury for its master's program in English. Several of them matriculated into doctoral programs, becoming successful scholars.

At SU he was twice honored by colleagues with the Distinguished Faculty Award and by students with the Outstanding Faculty Award, the highest campus honors given for teaching, scholarship and service.

With a full white beard, mischievous smile and portly physique, Dr. Welsh was frequently teased by friends for his uncanny resemblance to Richard Attenborough, who portrayed Kris Kringle in Miracle on 34th Street. In many ways, it was an apt comparison.

There will be a memorial service on October 17 at 1 p.m., with visitation with family members at noon, at Holloway Funeral Home, 501 Snow Hill Rd., Salisbury, MD 21804 (phone number 410-742-5141). Those wishing to remember him may contribute to the James Welsh Memorial Fund, in care of the Salisbury University Foundation, Inc., P.O. Box 2655, Salisbury, MD 21801-2655, or to Coastal Hospice, P.O. Box 1733, Salisbury, MD 21802.

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Published in The Daily Times on Oct. 10, 2013
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