Dr. William Harlan "Bill" James
1933 - 2010
After dealing gallantly with an extended illness, Dr. William (Bill) Harlan James, 77, passed away Monday evening, August 30, 2010 surrounded by family members and friends. He had been hospitalized since June 20, 2010, for treatment of a subdural hematoma and complications resulting from chronic lymphatic leukemia (CLL) in Anchorage and at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital. On Monday afternoon, he returned to the home he and his second wife, Jean Wadland James, built together. He maintained his wit throughout his illness and quoted Mark Twain, "Everybody wants to go to heaven, just not today." He wanted his obituary to start with "The old coot finally kicked the bucket ... " Dr. James was born in 1933 in Warren, Ohio, to Helen Scheidegger James and W.A. James. Dr. James graduated as valedictorian of Warren G. Harding High School in January 1951, attended Ohio Wesleyan Univ e r s i t y, and graduated with top honors from Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Science in 1954. In 1958, he obtained his MD degree from Ohio State Medical School, graduated Phi Beta Kappa and first in his class. From 1958-1959, he did a Rotating Internship at Colorado General Hospital in Denver. During this time, he developed his long-term love of skiing and vowed to never live east of the Rockies again. With the exception of completing a pediatric residency at Akron Childrens Hospital in Akron, Ohio, from 1964-1966, he kept that vow.

After his internship, Dr. James had two options- being drafted into the military or joining the Public Health Service (PHS). He chose the PHS and came to Alaska in July 1959. The PHS stationed him at St. George Island in the Pribilof Islands in Alaska. There wasn't a harbor or airstrip on St. George Island, so when they arrived by ship, they had to board a baidar (skin boat) and be rowed to shore. He remained at St. George until he was transferred to Anchorage of that year. After six months, the PHS then transferred him to the Bering Sea Patrol with the Coast Guard from June to December of 1960. This was when the PHS provided doctors to the Coast Guard to make visits to clinics along the Aleutian Chain and up the coast of Alaska. In fact, he visited all the villages along the coast.

For almost 30 of his 44year medical career James served as a pediatrician family practice doctor to Interior Alaska Natives and visited all of the Interior villages. In December 1960, Dr. James was transferred by the PHS to Tanana where he remained until October 1962. In Tanana, Dr. James took up one of his hobbies, water-skiing. He and others from the Tanana Hospital would get rigged up and water-ski the Yukon River. During this time he married his first wife, Lois John, from Fort Yukon and raised a family of six children. After being in Tanana, the PHS wanted to transfer him to a place where he "would do a lot more administrative work." He hated administrative work so he resigned and came to Fairbanks and started working for the Tanana Valley Clinic (TVC) where he stayed from October 1962 until June 1963. He and his family moved to Council, Idaho, where he was in private practice for a year. After this experience, he decided to complete a pediatric residency. After residency, he returned to Fairbanks and worked again at the TVC until 1973. He then re-enlisted in the PHS, maintaining his Captain 06 rank, and worked for the Alaska Native Health Service (ANHS) clinic in Fairbanks through May 1976. He returned to the Tanana Hospital one more time from May 1976 to August 1978, getting to water ski once again. Afterwards, he returned to Fairbanks and worked at the clinic later named the Chief Andrew Isaac Health Center (CAIHC). He retired from the CAIHC in 2003, and is well remembered by people throughout Interior Alaska for his calm and caring manner. Before retirement, he was asked "if you could magically cure one disease what would it be?" He responded, "Alcoholism," and now he would have also included drug addiction.

After retirement, Dr. James was able to indulge in his passion of reading something other than medical literature. Despite the CLL, he remained very active. He and a group of "guys" spent many wonderful times together backpacking in the Grand Canyon, the Rockies, throughout Southern Utah, British Columbia and Alaska. He also spent many days skiing at Moose Mountain in Fairbanks. He and Jean had many adventures skiing, kayaking, and canoeing. He also enjoyed gardening. Bill was a regular at the Fairbanks Athletic Club since 1988 and developed many friendships during this time.

His family was very important to him and he maintained a ritual of Saturday night family dinners for which he did all the shopping and cooking. Ever since his kids were little, he took them to Alyeska to ski for a week. This tradition evolved into his doing all the shopping and cooking for 20+ kids, grandkids, friends, nephews, nieces, himself and his wife Jean.

He touched the lives of many. Randy Hurd M.D., Bill's close friend and colleague, reflects the sentiment of many when he says: "… more than any other person in my adult life, you, undoubtedly without intending to, have been my sentinel person, the person who has shown me the way. You've been the trinity of surrogate dad, partner, and friend to me, uniquely."

An article about Dr. James written by Mary Beth Smetzer can be found at newsminer.com/ bookmark/9357247, which also includes a guest book and picture gallery. Also, a Community Health Aide Program taped, three-part interview with Dr. James can be accessed via a Google seach -Jukebox UAF Bill James; or at http://jukebox.uaf.edu/ CHA/htm/bjames.htm Many thanks go to his long-term colleague and physician, Dr. J. Michael Carroll, and staff at Fairbanks Cancer Care Physicians for their friendship and care. At every visit, Dr. James always had a joke for whoever was willing to listen.

He is survived by his wife of 23 years Jean Wadland James; his six children: Bob, Geraldine, John, Adam, Aaron, Eli, their spouses, partners and nine grandchildren; his stepson: Nolan Wadland; his brother Judge Richard James and sisterin- law June; sisters Janet McGeough and Carol Mundo of Warren, Ohio and numerous nephews and nieces and friends.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial donations be made in his name to the Walter J. and Ermalee Hickel House, Providence Alaska Foundation, POB 196604 Anchorage, AK 99519, or to the Cancer Treatment Center, Fairbanks Memorial Hospital Foundation, POB 71396, Fairbanks 99707. Condolences may be sent to POB 84017, Fairbanks, AK 99708-4017 A memorial service will be held Sunday, September 12, 2010, at 4 p.m. in the Chief David Salmon Tribal Hall, 111 Clay St, Fairbanks, Alaska.
Published by Daily News-Miner on Sep. 5, 2010.
To plant trees in memory, please visit the Sympathy Store.
To offer your sympathy during this difficult time, you can now have memorial trees planted in a National Forest in memory of your loved one.
Sponsored by Jean Wadland James, wife.
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69 Entries
It has been over six weeks since my Dad Died and the hole in my heart still aches and I'm sure will for a long time. Yet, I can fill that hole with all those wonderful words I just read, it helps a lot. I was so lucky to have such a Dad, yes he was tough on me but I never questioned how much he loved me and my brothers. I will miss and think of him everyday and live my life with the same strength and integrity he had, along with his love of life and all the stories he brought to life with wit and way of embellishing on the details. Its weird living on earth without my Dad, love your favorite daughter.
Geraldine Moeller
October 18, 2010
Our thoughts and prayes are with all the family.
Cobb Family
September 19, 2010
I am so sorry for the passing of Bill. Reading his obituary in his hometown newspaper The Tribune Chronicle, he was a very talented man. I never realized he had lived such a accomplished life. I am sure his family was very proud of him. I am a friend of his sister, Carol. I am sure he will be greatly missed.
Shirley Arbogast
September 15, 2010
Jean and family, I'm so sorry to hear about Bill. He was a wonderfully unique, witty, and inspirational man. I still fondly remember Saturday dinners, the twinkle in his eyes, his great stories. He was the epitome of kindness and generosity. I will never forget him. My thoughts are with you all.
Dana James
September 14, 2010
Jean & family I am so sorry to hear about Bill's passing. Bill was an amazing man. I met Bill at The Alaska Club in 1991, he was a real joy to talk to & had such wisdom. I loved talking to him & getting his advice on things. He always incourage me to work hard & the pay off's would be well worth it as I aged. Well he was right as I go to the gym 5-6 days a week. I will miss seeing Bill at the gym, it will never be the same without him. I will never forget him & look forward to the day I will once see him again. Bill was loved so much! God Bless your family!
Sherry L. Stevenson
September 12, 2010
Uncle Bill was a great man to have for an uncle. You got to impress all your friends with stories about your uncle who was a doctor in Alaska. Then, when I got to spend time with him, it was even better. I remember talking and laughing with him. I remember him making me feel important and like I could do anything. I love you Uncle Bill.
Tony Mundo
September 12, 2010
I only knew Dr. James through his daughter Geraldine, but from this acquaintance it is evident he was a great man and will be sorely missed. My fiancee, Betsy Smith, knew Dr. James from the Fairbanks Athletic Club, where she would run into him frequently and chat briefly. She remembers he had a fondness for the Stair Master and was always upbeat and pleasant. I hope your own memories of Dr. James provide you with comfort as you reflect on his extraordinary life.
Michael Knavel
September 12, 2010
Jean~I'm so sorry to hear the news about Dr. James. When I first
started working at CAIHC I'll always remember his famous saying: "A busy nurse is a happy nurse". He would call me "nurse" and said he
would only call me by name if I stayed longer than 6 months. Well, I lasted from 1992 until 2000 when I moved back to Pennsylvania to be
with my sick grandparents and be closer to my parents. I'm proud to
have worked with him and I learned a lot. I work at Meadville Medical
Center in the Pediatric department and remember everything he taught me. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.
Paula Waid~Meadville, Pa
September 10, 2010
Jean, Marjie just e-mailed us that Dr. James had died. I was just talking with our son Ben last week about Dr. James. He had such a twinkle and I loved working with him at CAIHC. The photo just captures his spirit. What a good man. Our love and warm thoughts to you. Connie and Jim Sedinger
Connie Sedinger
September 9, 2010
Dr Bill was my companion doc in Tanana in 1960-61. What a great honor to serve with him.He was one of a kind "Great Doc" and a true family physician who had Peds training as well ! A great loss to the Doctor Community ! May God bless his family in their loss ! Dr. Stanley Hadley, Jr. and wife Charlotte.
September 9, 2010
We were so sorry to hear of your loss. The thoughts of many are with you at this time of sorrow.
alice silas
September 8, 2010
What a privilege it was to have such a wonderful doctor! I remember when I was a teenager he pierced my ears for me and he wasn't very happy about doing it! (This was before it was a common practice!) All of my kids loved him - our youngest daughter, as a toddler, would always run up to him whenever she saw him and hug his legs. God's peace to all the family members. Thank you for sharing Dr. James with us over the years.
Shirley Lee
September 7, 2010
How does one say goodbye. Dr. James we will see you later. To his family my condolences. Dr. James you were always so kind and caring to everyone. We were blessed to have known you and for taking care of us ill ones. Thank you sir.
September 7, 2010
I first met Dr Bill James at a Clinical Director's meeting in Anchorage. When his turn came to present his issues he loudly vented frustration over a chronic issue that we all shared. The group had a productive discussion and felt closer and less isolated. He became a friend to me that day and helped me out when we would come to Fairbanks.
I enjoyed the comaraderie we later shared at Chief Andrew Isaac Health Center, his wisdom, and his wit and sense of humor. He set a great example in his dedication, work ethic, varied friendships and readiness to help.
I will miss him but will always feel privileged to have known him.
floyd Elterman
September 7, 2010
Dr. James was our family dr. for many years, he will be greatly missed. Our condolences to the family.
September 7, 2010
My sincere Condolences to the James Family, Growing up in Fairbanks the doctor was always Dr. James for us native children. Thank you Dr. James for caring for all of us, as kids. The one good memory was your kitchen swinging doors when I had the gracious opportunity of visiting your home, so long ago. It was something I had never seen before and it stood out in my memory. May God bless you and your family for being a blessing us. In Jesus name, Amen.
Carolyn Edwards
September 7, 2010
To all of Dr. James family, we will miss the greaT
September 7, 2010
my condolences goe out to the family,of doctor james.i remember doctor james when he was in tanana at the hospital there,then he move to fairbanks after the hospital shut down in tanana,seem like like he was alway there for native peoples when they got sick,or treating them.
Billy Honea
September 7, 2010
Jean & family,

We send you our condolences - he will be greatly missed.
Dr. James was the pediatrician for our three children. He will be greatly missed by numerous people in the medical field, as well as all families he has touched in his career.

Bill & Selina Devalcourt
North Pole, Alaska
September 6, 2010
To the family of Dr.James I am truly sorry for your loss.He was a very kind man,he was my pediatrician when I was a young child at Chief Andrew Issac Health Center.He then was able to treat and help care for four of my children.He will be greatly missed and I will remember him always.He was always there when I was sick or I had to get a shot.Thank you Dr.James for your love and kindness towards all children.
Crystal Sisto
September 6, 2010
Dr. James became the pediatrician for our children when we moved to Fairbanks in 1978. He was at the births of our two youngest and we always felt how lucky we were to have such a terrific, knowledgeable and gentle doctor to care for our four children. They loved him, as we also did. It is true, he had a 6th sense for when a child was very ill and he knew exactly what to do when other doctors did not. Our condolences to his family in this very sad loss.
Andy & Marie Angaiak
September 6, 2010
What a wonderful doctor he was he will be greatly missed.
barbara mcmillan(Clow)
September 6, 2010
Edna Riley
September 6, 2010
Dr. James was the pediatrician when my first child, Heather, was born in 1971. Her dad was concerned because her legs looked really crooked. Dr. James folded Heather's little legs up on her torso and said, "Well, your legs would look a little funny too if you spent nine months in this position. Her legs are fine."

Jean, I send you love and comfort. I remember when Nolan came to our house on Amherst for day care, many years ago. I have fond memories of when our children were young. Nancy Kendall Huff
Nancy Kendall Huff
September 6, 2010
Celebrating a life well lived. We will cherish the memories forever.
September 5, 2010
We are sorry to hear of Bill's passing. Our love and prayers are with you.

Uncle Howard & Aunt Doris Scheidegger, Virginia Cole & family
September 5, 2010
God bless you Dr James and all you have done. My prayers and sympathy to the family. He also was the Doctor when I was born in 1967.
Shirley Sam
September 5, 2010
We will remember Bill as a wonderful, compassionate and caring human being and friend. May the fine memories and the love you shared together be a comfort to you at this time of his transition.
Jack and Frieda Townshend
September 4, 2010
Our prayers go out to his family. He was our children's pediatrician and was a wonderful man.
Penny Hegenbart Oregon/AK
September 3, 2010
I have many stories of Dr James but, the 1 that is the most important to me is... When I was 14 I had knee reconstruction surgery. I had to go in and get my casts changed. I had been telling that it felt like my right leg was oozing. Dr James took off the cast and did cultures on my right leg and we found out that I had a massive bone infection. He didn't even as to do these tests. He just knew that I needed them. He saved my leg that day. Even when I was in the hospital fighting the infection he came to see me. I will always have a deep respect for this great man and Dr. Love you forever Dr James and thank you for telling me the way things needed to be even if I was hard headed and didn't like the way you told me.
Dawn Parker
September 3, 2010
My sympathy and prayers to the James family... He was there at my birth in the old Tanana hospital 49 yrs ago & there at my 17 yr. old daughters birth, I have alot of good memories of him...
September 3, 2010
RIP Dr. James, you treated myslf as a child, young adult, and my kids. Always staight forward and with a friendly smile. Thank you for your years of service providing for Alaskan Natives and all. Your two sons that I know are great people too, hugs to Aaron and Eli & the entire family at this time. God Bless.
Karen Williams-Chase
September 3, 2010
condolences go to Dr James family. Dr James was my Doctor as a child and teen growing up and was my son's pediatrician until we left Alaska. I have always admired Dr James and am sad to see an advocate for the Native people of Alaska gone. His service will always be remembered. Back in the 90s a newspaper article was written about him and his service. In this article it showed the generous person Dr James was. Sorry about the loss
Kiatcha Nyquist
September 3, 2010
Doc was the kind of Doctor that I felt comfortable calling Doc., Doc. would get a sparkle in his eye, a knowing sparkle, I am quite sure he liked being called that. He was the Doc for my children and I truly trusted him.
When I worked for the clinic he was resistant to using a computer so when he retired and got one I felt like maybe, just maybe I had got through to him. (I know I am only kidding myself, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t me.)
To his family I would like to pass this on to you:

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
(MATHEW 5:4)

Rejoice and be glad, he is with the Lord.
My best to you all.
Susan Blevins
September 3, 2010
He was my doctor on a number of occassions,one distinct visit ended with him admitting me to the hospital, the diagnose was H-pilory prior to my admissions I had read an article in readers digest it mentioned a doctor who was treating his patients who had h-pilory with amoxicillan and pepto bismol tablets. The patients all recovered. I mentioned this to doctor James and that he was going to read the article, he treated me with the same medications this was in 1991, to date I haven't had any problems with H-pilory. I often think of Dr.James for his willingness to try methods of treatment for a very difficult condition. My family and I send our condolences to his children and wife.


Myra,Christina,Donny Heaps
Myra Heaps
September 2, 2010
My prayers and condolences to Dr James's family. RIP.
pauline nollner
September 2, 2010
When my daughter,Tonya, had a severe head injury in a car accident in Idaho, I was worried whether we would be able to provide the necessary services for her to recover in FBKS. Dr. James calmly told me to "bring her home and we will take care of her." What reassuring words during our crisis.She fully recovered and I will always be grateful for his kindness.
Jeannie Nelson
September 2, 2010
I would simply like to add one more heartfelt note of gratitude to the litany of thank-you's for Dr. James' presence in my life.

My Dad told me that Dr. James saved my life as a 6-week premie, by inserting a tube into my lung after it had collapsed at 4:30 in the morning.

Thank you, Dr. James. Jon Osterkamp (Phoenix, AZ)
September 2, 2010
Doc was the kind of Doctor that I felt comfortable calling Doc. I called a few others that and they looked at me like who are you to call me that. Doc. would get a sparkle in his eye, a knowing sparkle, I am quite sure he liked being called that. He was the Doc for my children and I liked him so much I made all my appointments for myself with him.
When I worked for the clinic he was resistant to using a computer so when he retired and got one I felt like maybe, just maybe I had got through to him. (I know I am only kidding myself, I'm pretty sure wasn't me.)
To his family I would like to pass this on to you:
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
(MATHEW 5:4)

Rejoice and be glad he is with the Angels,
My best to you all.
Susan Blevins
September 2, 2010
Dr. James was there for the delivery of my two children many years ago along with Dr. Dunlap. He was a very kind and caring doctor. I missed him so much when he left Tanana Valley Clinic. My sympathy and blessings to his family. He certainly left his mark on this earth.
Cathy Ranaldi
September 2, 2010
Dr James will be missed. I grew up with Dr James as my doctor. He was my mothers friend when she was a health aide. My condolences to his family.
cal moses
September 2, 2010
James Klingeman
September 2, 2010
Dear Jean and family,
I am sorry for your loss. Dr.James was such a wonderful role model. He made us all laugh and cry.
He was always the strong, never wavering support and touched many lives.
He will be greatly missed.
Grace Kalk (Ackerson)
September 2, 2010
28 yrs ago Dr. James Saved my oldest son Daniel. My family will always be eternally grateful. Our prayers and thoughts are with the family. He will be forever missed. Sincerely, Janet Demientieff
September 2, 2010
September 2, 2010
Jean, Our thoughts & love are with you as you are sorting through these difficult days. Bill will be remembered by Bill & I and know your loss is great. Betty & Bill
Betty Connor
September 2, 2010
Lottie Ward
September 2, 2010
Dr. James will surely be remembered for years by many throughout Alaska and other places. He was my doctor when I first moved from the village to the city many years ago and then he was my children's doctor as they grew up in Fairbanks. My prayers go out for the family which, of course, is just about every Alaska Native in Fairbanks and some villages. God bless you all.
Annie Huntington-Kriska
September 2, 2010
Our hearts go out to the James' family at this difficult time. Dr. James was me and my sister's pediatrician all of our childhood. When I was born, I was put in an incubator. Dr. James sat with me all night to make sure I was going to make it. My mom recognized his footsteps long before he came into her hospital room with a big smile on his face saying "she's going to be fine". Embrace the good times and the laughter as this man touched many lives. Thank you Dr. James and God bless.
Margaret Krize
September 2, 2010
Even though I came to CAIHC several years after Dr. James retired, I would hear people speak of him almost daily. He leaves huge footprints which will, no doubt, remain unfilled.
Clark Fultz, D.O.
Clark Fultz
September 2, 2010
Our prayers go out to Dr. James family in this time of loss.
Dr. James was my Dr. as a child, I always remembered him and had him in my thoughts! He was so nice whenever we went to the clinic.
RIP Dr James you will always be in my heart!
Colleen Sovalik
September 2, 2010
God Bless all the family and friends of Dr. James. I have missed him since his retirement at CAIHC. He was one of the best Dr.'s at the clinic and cared very much about his patients. Earth has lost a good man and heaven has gained an incredible angel.Rest in peace.
September 2, 2010
Sorry for your loss. He will be missed.
Shawn Wiegand
September 2, 2010
I remember Dr. James. He was honest & straight forward & I considered--consider him a friend.

Martha H.
September 2, 2010
Dr. James was my doctor at CAIHC from practically birth to my teens. He was always very caring. I did have and still do have complex health problems and Dr. James was always on top of it getting me back to health as soon as possible. He will be greatly missed. My thoughts and prayers to the family and friends.
Verna (Charlie) Fonoti
September 2, 2010
My condolences and prayers to his family. He was a Great Dr. and mentor to a lot of people. Take care and God Bless.
Margie Ambrose
September 2, 2010
My prayers go out to the James's Family..I didnt know him but he delivered me at birth 33 years ago..thanks so much for your hard work for the people across alaska.
September 2, 2010
Dr.James was an inspiration and very enjoyable to talk to at the club ,My prayers go out to his family. Wayne Christie
Wayne Christie
September 2, 2010
To my friend and the commander of the A-Team,I will miss you alot thanks for all your encouragement and friendship and support.
Steve Carr P.A.-C
September 2, 2010
To the Family,
I knew Dr. James when he was in Tanana. He was a exceptional Doctor that I greatly admired. We will miss him.
Jeanette (Roberts)Scannell
Jeanette Scannell
September 2, 2010
He was one of the main reasons we came to Alaska. He sat next to me, and mentored me for 6 years while I worked at CAIHC. His wisdom and wit were invaluable. I trusted his judgement, and found that when I followed his advice, I rarely had problems. I can still remember his story of "How the angel got to be on the top of the Christmas tree" like it was yesterday. (Ask me sometime.) Even though we have not had as much opportunity to interact in the last 10 years, his influence will be missed, and I will miss him.
Don Ives
September 2, 2010
Dr. James as I knew him all my years growing up going to the clinic. My mom always like him as he was our doctor always listened and gave good sound advice. In fact he was my kids docotor when I had children. thoughts and prayers to the family. Aggie (Lord) Britt
Aggie Britt
September 2, 2010
Dr. James was my doctor when I was very young, and I just remember how kind and gentle he was with a little girl who was terrified of getting shots. He was a great man and doctor, and his influence will be remembered by many.
Jennifer Angaiak
September 2, 2010
"Deepest sympathy to the family". I enjoyed working with Dr. James at CAIHC, because he was fun to work with and he cared about the clients. May God comfort the James family during this difficult time. Darlene & Family
Darlene Lord
September 2, 2010
My mom always told me it was Dr. James who delivered me at birth. I remember you as a child and how nice you were. For this I'm proud and thankful for you.

God Bless you and your family, and thank you for being my Doctor. You will be sorely missed.

Loyla Leavitt - Fairbanks & Barrow, Alaska
September 2, 2010
Wishing the best for the James family. May God Bless them all at this time of need and prayer. Linda M. Horace & family.
September 2, 2010
His smile and friendship I will never forget. He would run to work all through the winter and we shared many a lunch together with friends at FMH. What a Doc!
Godspeed, Bill, you will be missed.
Randy McGregor
September 2, 2010
Down to earth, sly grin, shared his good sense of humor when it was appropriate, strong well reasoned opinions that he shared when you asked for his council, well read, kept himself enviably physical fit. One of the few people I have known who knew how to really listen and develop his thoughts and responses before saying anything in response. A great friend who put his relationship with his family, his friends, and literally everyone he interacted with on a level playing field of freedom from criticism with yet a hint that you, and he could always grow and do better.
Neal Brown
September 2, 2010
Many and varied memories of medical collaboration in Ft Yukon. He was simply great! My condolences to the family.
Paul Finch
September 2, 2010
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