Dr. James Duncan Lavin, Sr., 84, passed away peacefully at home after a long illness, surrounded by his children, grandchildren, and dear friends, on Saturday, August 31, 2013. He was the only son of Capt. Raymond Peter Lavin and Clare Duncan Lavin of Poplar Bluff, Missouri.
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At age 16, Jim travelled to Michoacán, Mexico where he studied art under Alfredo Zalce, and where he began his life-long interest in Spanish history, material culture, art, and architecture. He served in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War, where he was a pilot with the 93rd Bomb Squadron. Until his discharge, he served as a tanker pilot and as a KC-97 flight instructor. He then attended Florida State University, Tallahassee, on the GI Bill, studied as a Fulbright Scholar in Madrid, Spain, and earned his PhD. in Spanish Golden Age Studies. After teaching for two years at the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point, Dr. Lavin accepted a position in the Modern Language Department at The College of William and Mary. He liked nothing more than sharing with students (and whomever else would listen) what he had learned over a lifetime of study. For many years he directed William and Mary's summer program in the Cantabrian Region of Spain. Always the professor, following his retirement from the college after 34 years, he continued to research, publish, and consult with museums, collectors, and auction houses around the world.
Jim leaves to cherish his memory his wife of 45 years, the former Mary Megal of Wisconsin, daughter Mary Elizabeth (Betsy) Lavin and her husband Ryan Gregory, sons James D. Lavin, Jr. (Jamie) and Michael D. Lavin, four grandchildren Liam, Gracie and Elizabeth Gregory, and James Alexander Lavin all of Williamsburg, and cousins Anne Duncan Welke of Appleton, Wisconsin, and Lois Duncan Arquette of Sarasota, Florida.. The family would like to thank the doctors and nurses of Sentara Hospital, Consulate Rehab, Riverside Hospice Care, and all the friends and family who lovingly cared for Jim and stood vigil with us during his final days.
A funeral Mass for Dr. Lavin will be held at William and Mary's Catholic Student Chapel, Harrison Ave, Williamsburg, on Monday Sept. 9 at 1:00, followed by interment at St. Bede Columbarium. In lieu of flowers, contributions in his name may be made to any Hospice Care organization, The Heritage Humane Society of Williamsburg, or any favorite charity involved in medical research on diseases in aging.
Published in Virginia Gazette from Sept. 7 to Oct. 6, 2013