PAXSON, JAMES J.
James John Paxson, 50, of Gainesville passed away on February 2, 2011. Dr. Paxson was born on Long Island, NY and moved to Gainesville in 1995. He was a professor of English at the University of Florida.
Professor Paxson was characterized by his good humor and compassionate soul. He cared deeply for his family, always loving and attentive, and was never absent at important family events like birthdays, graduations, or award ceremonies. His children relished his doting affection, and learned much from his encyclopedic knowledge. As a father, Professor Paxson took his children on trips through the woods, taught them how to star-gaze, and sat at many a dinner table discussing the banalities of every day. As a husband, he was a caring and loving man, always concerned for his wife, his first true love. As an educator, he loved all of his students, spending countless hours carefully reading their work and writing letters of recommendation for those destined for graduate or professional school. He was a natural in the classroom, and received a college-wide Teacher of the Year award from UF in 2001.
In addition to being a profoundly influential father, teacher, and mentor to many students during his academic career at first Iona College in New York and then UF, Professor Paxson was a distinguished scholar of late medieval and early modern English culture. He applied his excellent training and extensive learning to many of the major authors and texts of these periods. He published a significant monograph in the field of allegory studies, The Poetics of Personification, with Cambridge University Press, and he followed this publication with numerous influential articles in allegory theory. He was also an avid student of late medieval drama, and he published important papers in this field as well. But in recent years his most influential work was in the study of the great 14th-century English poem Piers Plowman. His contributions to our understanding of this renowned if difficult and complicated masterpiece were recognized far and wide for their learning, their insight, their argumentative skill, and the cultural breadth of their concern. With his death, Medieval Studies generally and Piers Plowman studies, in particular, lose a major voice and staunch advocate. Though trained as a Medievalist, Professor Paxson had a wide range of interests, and also taught courses on Literature and Science (a life-long fascination for him), and the History of the English Language.
Jim is survived by his wife of 22 years, Tammy Sullivan-Paxson, his children John Paxson and Maggie Paxson both of Gainesville, his mother Marjorie Paxson of Starke, and his brother Gerard Paxson of New York.
A memorial service will be held on UF campus in the Ustler Hall Atrium on February 15, 2011 at 2:30-4pm.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Humane Society, 2029 NW 6th Street, Gainesville, FL, 32609, in memory of Jim's love for all animals, in particular for his beagle, Rootbeer. Arrangements are under the care of Forest Meadows Funeral Home. Please sign the guestbook at www.forestmeadowsfh.com
Published in Gainesville Sun from February 13 to February 14, 2011