URBANA — James Donald Wallace, 82, passed away peacefully at home in Tempe, Ariz., surrounded by his family, on Sunday, July 7, 2019.
He was born May 21, 1937, to the late Donald F. Wallace and Jane Powell Wallace, in Troy, N.Y. He was a graduate of Albany Academy, receiving his bachelor's degree at Amherst College in 1959 and a Ph.D. from Cornell University in 1963.
When Mr. Wallace was a brand new professor, students actually threw rocks at him, mistaking him for a fellow student sufficiently geeky to carry a briefcase. For 49 years, Jim was a professor of philosophy at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, covering a variety of subjects that engrossed students of all backgrounds and majors. After nearly 50 years in Urbana, he and his wife, Sally, moved to Arizona in 2012 to be closer to their family.
He was predeceased by his son, David Foster Wallace; brother, Richard P. Wallace; and sister-in-law, Elizabeth Allen Wallace.
Professor Wallace is survived by his wife of 59 years, Sally Foster Wallace; daughter, Amy Wallace-Havens; son-in-law, Kenneth D. Wallace; granddaughters, Lydia E. Havens and Max J. Wallace; daughter-in-law, Karen L. Green; and nephews and niece, Stephen Wallace, Lee Wallace and Scott Wallace.
To say that Jim was a loving husband, father and grandfather is an understatement. He was kind, warm and always happy to take a bored child to the movies or the park. Jim Wallace instilled a passion for intellectual curiosity in his students, children and granddaughters. No question posed to Professor Wallace was answered without serious consideration — and a lengthy pause. One of the few questions he couldn’t answer to his own satisfaction — how people can be sure that they are actually living beings and not mere cartoons — was posed long ago by his then-preschool-age daughter and found itself into conversations for decades to come.
He loved to read, go on walks and play cribbage with anyone who could. Jim was known for his sharp sense of humor and tender heart, volunteering for years to speak on behalf of vulnerable children for the National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association (CASA).
James Wallace will be missed for generations to come.