Dr Eleanor James (1935-2011)
Eleanor James, who died in June this year, had a lifelong association with Aberystwyth and the University. She was born in the town, attended Ardwyn Grammar School and then became an undergraduate student at what was then the University College of Wales. She graduated in Mathematics in 1956 and not long afterwards was appointed to a lectureship. Unusually this was a joint appointment in the Departments of Pure Mathematics and Applied Mathematics – they were at the time, and for some years afterwards, separate departments. This reflected her academic interests which were in the area of Nonlinear Differential Equations. At quite an early stage in her career she co-authored a textbook on the subject with T V Davies, who was at the time the head of the Department of Applied Mathematics.
Eleanor was deeply committed to the University and to her subject. She was a dedicated teacher and an able administrator. She had definite views on academic quality and standards and always expressed them with balance and clarity. Eleanor had high expectations and generations of students will remember her with respect and admiration. Though not a productive researcher in terms of publications, she was a valuable member of the Nonlinear Differential Equations research group in later years and supervised a number of postgraduate students. Her straightforward good sense meant that she was asked to undertake a number of important departmental and Faculty tasks. In addition she was invited to be a member of a number of public bodies, both local and national.
Her commitment to Aberystwyth was again demonstrated by her involvement in the work of the Old Students’ Association, of which she was treasurer for many years until forced to resign by ill health. Her wise counsel was greatly valued by the OSA, as it had previously been by her colleagues.
Eleanor is survived by her husband David, who came to Aberystwyth as a lecturer in the Department of Agricultural Botany. David was originally from Myddfai in Carmarthenshire but became as ‘Aberystwyth’ as Eleanor. Both were active members of Bath Street Presbyterian Church of Wales, and the high esteem in which they were held was exemplified by the large congregation at Eleanor’s funeral and the tributes paid to her.
Eleanor James was a good friend and colleague, committed and reliable. She will be missed and remembered warmly by all who knew her and worked with her.