Jim Harvey joined FCLIR in 2002, and in those twenty-one years has offered more than 40 seminars. He is fearless in choosing his topics, as he considers delving into new subjects a great learning experience, and his seminars are so popular that there is never a vacancy in them. I signed up for several of his seminars in the past: “Mesopotamia,” “Iran,” and “China.” This semester he is focusing on “Our Neighbors to the South: Central America and the Caribbean,” and next spring will moderate two: “The History of Jazz,” and “Russia: Peter the Great to Putin.” His all-time favorite is “The Golden Age of the Arabs.”
Jim was born in India, the son of missionaries. The family had to leave when the US entered WW II. Their ship took an erratic course across the Pacific to keep clear of Japanese ships before landing in San Francisco. “I had my first ice-cream cone in Melbourne, Australia,” he said. In college he majored in Physics, but after graduating decided to go to Yale Divinity School. Science and Religion have been constants in his life.
Jim met his wife Gerry at UConn, when he was getting an MS in Physics. Gerry is as adventurous as he, so they signed up for Jim to teach at Gordon College in Pakistan (1965-70.) Their two daughters were born there and have birth certificates in Urdu. The Harveys also have two adopted sons.
The Pakistani physics courses, at that time, depended heavily on memorization and lacked a number of modern physics topics, so he offered a volunteer program at 7 AM to fill in some of the missing material. Six students enrolled; four of them later scored in the top five places on the Punjabi state exam.
When Jim and Gerry returned to the USA, he first taught high school physics and math, then became a computer programmer and instructor for Aetna, and was a pastor in two different parishes before retiring and coming to Hadley to be near their daughter Lisa, now a Professor Emerita of Psychology, and her family.
Besides offering seminars, Jim has also served as an officer in 5CLIR: Vice-President, President, and Past President, as well as Chair of the Curriculum Committee, which he found way more work than serving as an officer.
In the past few years Jim has developed Parkinson’s, for which reason offering seminars via Zoom has been a blessing. He feels that 5CLIR is a great venue for elders, who can continue to learn, make new friends, fight boredom, and provide the psychic satisfaction of exploring new fields of study.
As providential as Zoom has been for him, Jim also feels that there is nothing like getting together, so each semester he and Gerry host a party in their ample back yard which faces a small lake and is beautifully cared for by Gerry.
As an experienced moderator Jim is more than generous in sharing his time and computer skills. The pastor in him leads Jim to offer one-on-one help and tech aid for many who need it (like me). He is both skilled and infinitely patient.
We are lucky to have him.