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James McKenzie Alexander

1928 - 2016 Obituary Condolences
James McKenzie Alexander Obituary
James McKenzie Alexander, III, Ph.D

James McKenzie Alexander, III, Ph.D., 87, of Olalla, Washington, passed away on June 10, 2016.

Jim was born in Anderson, South Carolina on September 27, 1928 to Joseph Andrew Alexander and Myrtle Owens Alexander. Myrtle did not survive the birth. He was raised by his grandfather James M. Alexander and his step-grandmother Olive Talley Alexander of Newry, S.C.

Jim graduated from Clemson High School, and went on to receive a B.A. in Anthropology in 1950 from the University of New Mexico; a M.S. in Zoology in 1955 from Clemson University, and a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Washington in 1971.

Jim married Gail Stevens on June 24, 1996; they shared love and life for 20 years.

Jim served in the U.S. Marine Corps during WWII and the Korean Conflict. Captain Alexander received an Honorable Discharge in 1953. He was a Marine reservist until his final release from service in 1962. His decorations included the World War II Victory Medal, the National Defense Service Medal with one service star, and the Organized Marine Corps Reserve Medal.

During his notable career as an anthropologist, he was an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Missouri and California State University, Long Beach. Jim was an Associate Professor of Anthropology at Central Washington University, Washington from 1971 - 1975, then full Professor until his retirement as Emeritus in 2001. His fields of interest included archeological field research, forensic anthropology, and Native American prehistory and ethnography. Jim was a Rockefeller Foundation Fellow (Tibetan Culture Project) and became a noted scholar of Tibetan political history and governmental systems.

Jim was instrumental in the development of the Anthropology Department at Central Washington University. An excellent teacher, he maintained his scholarly interests in retirement. Between 2012 and 2015, he helped organize several seminars, a two-day meeting, and a symposium for the Northwest Anthropological Conference in Portland, 2013. His leadership ensured that these efforts passed on critical knowledge and insights into Native American cultural heritage. Retired faculty, active faculty, students and former students, from as far back as the 1960s, joined in the review and synthesis of studies across several disciplines of the natural and social sciences. His contributions stimulated new graduate research on two archaeological sites and several related historical topics. Jim recently completed drafts of two papers; one calling for the integration of cultural anthropology, bio-anthropology, linguistics, and archaeology, and the other summarizing key insights into the history of Chinook Communities of Southwest Washington State.

Jim is survived by his wife, Gail; his daughter, Lisa Alexander Mohr; five grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren, and by his brother, Joseph Andrew Alexander, Jr.

Jim was preceded in death by his son, James McKenzie Alexander IV.

The family will celebrate Jim's life at a future date in Seneca, S.C.

The family invites those interested

to visit www.havenrest.com

to share reflections and memories of Jim.
Published in The Seattle Times from June 21 to June 22, 2016
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