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James Myron "Jamie" Sherman


1934 - 2020
James Myron "Jamie" Sherman Obituary
James (Jamie) Myron Sherman

Jim was born in El Paso, Texas on November 27, 1934 to Dr. James Edwin Sherman and Mary Louise Doherty Sherman. He died December 16, 2019 at home in Shelton, WA after a courageous 20 year battle of progressive dysphagia following surgery and treatment for parotid malignancy. Jim's early years were spent in Defiance, OH, where his father, one of the nation's top authorities on the structure and chemistry of human blood, was doing research on the causes of pernicious anemia. When Jim was eleven, the family moved to Coronado, CA, where he developed his love of free diving. Jim was not fond of the classroom, preferring to spend time diving with friends in California and Mexico. He managed to obtain "D's" in Spanish, but "A's" in geometry and chemistry. While a senior at Coronado High, he was chosen to represent the school at The Westinghouse Chemistry Competition in San Francisco. Outstanding students from across the U.S. were selected to take the test. Jim scored near the top and was named "A Westinghouse Scholar."

Jim attended San Diego State University where he discovered mathematics, which became a lifelong challenge and obsession. After graduating with honors with degrees in mathematics and physics, he accepted a position at The Boeing Company in Seattle and enrolled at the University of Washington to continue Ph.D studies. Jim fell in love with the Pacific Northwest. Hiking and climbing became passions, and he was an avid runner, winning the 1974 Seattle Marathon in his 40 and over age division. Jim was a voracious reader, never far from books, his Kindle and The World Almanac Book of Facts. His interests were vast: Shakespeare, Mark Twain, Dickens (favorites), animal and marine wildlife, birds, (crows and ravens), insects, (especially ants), landscaping, woodworking, hunting mushrooms, classical music (Bach) and history. Jim studied mathematicians his entire life: Galois, Goedel, Newton, Maxwell, Euler and one of his favorites, the great genius, Ramanujan from India. Jim was the proverbial "walking encyclopedia."

As a mathematician and computer scientist, Jim spent most of his working years at Boeing Computer Services, Seattle, with a 4 year interim at TRW Aerospace Company, California. His work involved mathematical modeling of strategic weapons systems (anti-satellite program, ballistic missiles and preferential defense). He did extensive work on math modeling for the storage of radioactive material, Hanford, WA. Jim won a Special Achievement Award for his research paper on contributing to the advancement of the state of the art in transmission power line loading analysis. Jim was a brilliant mathematician with an ability to stay focused on solving complex problems. The head of his group at TRW (A. Dean) wrote: "Jim possesses a keen analytic mind which is able to eliminate many superfluous variables from a problem and focus attention upon those variables which are most important to an understanding of the true nature of the problem. Jim is truly outstanding." He never gave up until he solved a problem. In 1980 he accepted a position with The Consulting Division of Boeing Computer Services Professional Services Organization as a consultant and mathematical analyst. Although this was a managerial position, Jim liked to joke that fortunately he did not have to manage anyone other than himself!

After his marriage to teacher/librarian, Marilyn Giese Rey, Jim found a new focus in life. They spent 43 years together and shared many common interests. Their adventures included extensive world travel: The Caribbean, a summer on the Greek Island of Poros, two months in the British Isles, a summer in the South Pacific and another in Australia and New Zealand. One of their favorite pastimes was sailing their 32' Herreshoff, exploring the San Juans, the Gulf Islands, Canada and Desolation Sound.

When Jim and Marilyn decided to retire early, they embarked on their greatest adventure. During their travels, they fell in love with New Zealand and became shareholders of Moturoa Island, a private island in the Bay of Islands. They decided to leave hectic life in Seattle behind and build a home overlooking the ocean on Moturoa Island, N.Z. Building a home on a private island, where building materials had to be brought by ferry, was a challenge. However, they soon had their dream home. Ten idyllic years were spent beachcombing, boating, swimming, diving, reading, bird watching (Moturoa is a bird sanctuary.) and tree planting. They adored peaceful island life. Jim enjoyed sitting on their deck with Marilyn watching glorious sunsets with a glass of excellent N.Z. wine! These were the best years of their lives.

After Jim was diagnosed with an invasive parotid malignancy, they returned to the U.S. and were fortunate to have the best physicians at the Department of Otolaryngology, the University of Washington, Seattle. The cancer was eliminated, but Jim had painful, progressive physical issues.

Due to the uncertainty of Jim's prognosis, they decided with great regret to sell their N.Z. home. Just as Jim never gave up on a math problem, he never gave up on life. He designed their home on Thunder Ridge above Hood Canal, WA. and did most of the landscaping. He also designed a workshop for his prized tools and never lacked a tool project. Jim was in his element and lived life to the fullest. He never gave up, nor did he ask "why me"? Jim's final months were difficult, but, as always, he faced his declining health with great courage.

Jim was a vegetarian and cared deeply for all animals, wildlife causes, the environment and all his kitties, past and present. He will be remembered for his wit, intelligence, courage, loyalty, honesty and generosity. He was a member of Pi Mu Epsilon, Honorary National Mathematics Society, The Seattle Tennis Club, The Seattle Mountaineers, The Sierra Club and World Wildlife.

In addition to his parents, Jim was preceded in death by his cherished sister, Susan Mason, and husband Bill, his sister Mary Matthews, his brothers-in-law Erich Giese, Paul Giese and wife Lucretia, and his sister-in-law, Rita Giese Harrah. Surviving are his loving wife, Marilyn, his devoted stepson, Paul Rey, his cherished nephew and nieces, Bill Mason, Betsy Mason, Mary Mason and Ann Mason, his loving sisters-in-law, Gretchen Ramsdell (Steve) and Sue Giese, his brother-in-law, David Harrah, his beloved kitty, Bode, niece, Susan Todd Regan and nephew, Bill Simrall.

Thank you to Dr. Neal Futran and Staff, University of Washington and to our devoted helper, Judy Feasel. At Jim's request, no memorial is planned. Donations may be made in Jim's name to: World Wildlife Fund, P.O. Box 96555, Wash D.C. 20077, or Kitten Rescue, 420 S.E. Rt. 3, Shelton, WA 98584.
Published in The Seattle Times on Feb. 9, 2020
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