Dr. James Wikle Cobble Ph.D.
1926 - 2021
Dr. James Wikle Cobble, PhD March 15, 1926 - November 12, 2021 La Jolla, CA
James Wikle Cobble of La Jolla, California, passed away peacefully on November 12, 2021 at the age of 95. Often cited as one of the world's leading scientist in high temperature water chemistry, James Cobble conducted extensive research while serving as Professor of chemistry and Vice President for Research and Dean of the Graduate Division at San Diego State University.
Jim was born at home March 15, 1926 in Kansas City, Missouri to Ray and Crystal Cobble. He moved to San Diego in 1937 and attended San Diego High School, where he graduated at age 16. San Diego High School is also where he met and fell in love with his future wife, Margaret Ann Zumwalt.
After graduation, Jim enrolled and attended SDSU for two years. He then enlisted into the Navy V12 program, which sent him to Northern Arizona University to complete his academic studies. After additional military training Jim received his commission and was deployed to the south Pacific aboard the USS Delta in late 1945. His tour took him to Tokyo, Okinawa and Shanghai among other places.
When he was released from active duty in 1946, Jim took advantage of the GI bill and enrolled in the master's degree program at USC. In addition, he secured a teaching assistant position. He married Margaret Ann shortly afterwards and graduated with an MS in Chemistry in 1949. He and Margaret Ann then moved to Oak Ridge, Tennessee where he was hired at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and worked on his doctorate by taking classes in the evening. He wrote his thesis on the physical chemistry of Technetium, a newly discovered element and was awarded his PhD by the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge Institute of Nuclear Studies in 1952.
With his newly acquired doctorate and a recommendation from physicist George Boyd at the Oak Ridge National Lab, Jim went to Berkeley and worked as a post-doc at the Radiation Laboratory under Glen Seaborg. In 1955, he went to Purdue University and joined the chemistry faculty as an assistant professor. Dr. Cobble, a physical inorganic chemist, was quickly promoted to full Professor.
While a member of the Purdue faculty, he was active in the university senate, was awarded numerous research grants, wrote over sixty scientific papers, became a Guggenheim Fellow in 1966, and was awarded the prestigious E.O. Lawrence Award in 1970 during a special ceremony with President Richard Nixon. In addition, he mentored dozens of graduate students, many whom went on to have distinguished careers of their own.
In 1973 Dr. Cobble's career took a turn, when then President Brage Golding, formerly a Purdue faculty member, invited Jim to join SDSU as Graduate Dean. In the years he spent as Graduate Dean, and later Vice President of Research at SDSU, he had a distinguished record of leadership, all the while continuing his research activities and supporting graduate students. During his tenure, SDSU secured approximately $1.8 billion for research-projects and program administration as Cobble led the university to preeminence among California universities.
Jim retired in 2002 after 29 years at SDSU. His passion was student success and growing the university's graduate programs. He was a true champion of the "teacher-scholar" model.
During his retirement years, Jim thoroughly enjoyed playing the organ, traveling to Europe, and fine dining. He was intelligent, witty, humorous and will be deeply missed!
Preceded in death by his beloved wife Margaret Ann, Jim is survived by his loving and devoted children Richard James Cobble (Joanne); and daughter Catherine Ann Hoffman, (Andrew), grandsons Sean and Alex; step-granddaughters Jessica Randall and Alexis Williamson; and step-great-grandsons: Cooper, Grady and Waverly.
Grave site services will be held at 1:00 pm, Monday, December 13, 2021 at Greenwood Cemetery, 4300 Imperial Avenue, San Diego, CA.

Published by San Diego Union-Tribune on Nov. 28, 2021.
To plant trees in memory, please visit the Sympathy Store.
Graveside service
Greenwood Cemetery
4300 Imperial Avenue, San Diego, CA
Add a Message

Not sure what to say?

3 Entries
Condolences to all the family on the passing of a great man. He is finally with Margaret Anne whom he dearly missed.
Beth Rafferty
December 13, 2021
For half of my career at San Diego State I interacted with Jim on the Graduate Council and in the University Senate. He was determined and sure and articulate, and we often differed. But Jim was always courteous and not without a sense of humor, and I recall many a leisurely debate at our table at the Faculty-Staff Club. I never knew that Jim had briefly attended "State College," but I did know that he pursued his research throughout his days as dean and years past his postponed retirement. He clearly loved his profession and was attached to the university. I´m happy for Jim´s long life, and I send my condolences to his daughter and son and their families.
E. Nicholas Genovese
November 29, 2021
With fond memories of an impressive man.
Stephen Weber
November 29, 2021
Showing 1 - 3 of 3 results