James Douglas Weddell (Jim) died Thursday, April 8th, 2021, from pneumonia and other complications related to multiple myeloma and COVID-19. He was 73.
Jim was born July 12, 1947, in Athens, Georgia, to Donald and Winifred Weddell. He left Athens after high school to attend Columbia University in New York City, where he played lightweight football. A newspaper photo of his encounter with police during the Columbia riots of 1968 played an influential role in public response to those events. After college he worked with people in recovery from addictions and their families.
He met Bertie Jospehson in April of 1970, and they were married in September of 1971. In 1972, they spent a summer near St. Maries, Idaho, helping friends build a house, and decided to move west so Bertie could go to grad school in wildlife biology. They settled in Pullman, later moving to Palouse and then back to Pullman in 1985, where they raised two children.
Jim studied architecture at WSU, receiving a degree in 1979 and then working for the university. In 1985, he was the unanimous choice to lead Pullman’s Main Street downtown revitalization project. Following that, Jim joined the Port of Whitman County, where he was assistant manager and then manager until 1996.
After leaving the Port, Jim opened his own architecture firm, Constructive Solutions. He had a passion for historic buildings and was responsible for the preservation and restoration of many local historic landmarks, including the Dahmen Barn and Jacobs’ Building in Uniontown, and the Lewis Alumni Centre at WSU. Later, Jim focused on building beautiful, functional housing for people with disabilities, seniors, and low-income families.
Jim was a long-time member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Palouse. Missing the music of his Southern Methodist upbringing, Jim started holding “Gospel Music Sunday,” an annual event hosted by his alter-ego, “Reverend Jim-Bob.” In 2018 the congregation gave him the honorary title of Minister Emeritus.
Jim’s many hobbies engaged his head, hands, and heart in multiple ways, from working on hot rod cars to penning a local newspaper column. He loved the outdoors, especially anything on water. He took many canoe, kayak, and rafting trips with friends and family around the Northwest, and he and his friend Bob Aberth made several fishing trips to Alaska.
In 2008, Jim was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, an incurable blood cancer. Defying expectations, he persevered through two transplants, multiple clinical trials, and many rounds of chemotherapy. He had periods of remission, but the treatment took a toll on his physical and mental health. In the fall of 2020, complications began to mount, compounded by contracting COVID-19 and experiencing long-term symptoms.
His wife and children were with him when he died, and his sister was able to see him a few weeks before his passing. The family would like to thank Dr. Edward Libby, the many other nurses and doctors who provided cancer care for him over the years, and Kindred Hospice and Family Resource Home Care for their excellent support.
Jim was preceded in death by his father Donald James Weddell, mother Winifred Tornblom Weddell, and sister Mary Winona Weddell. He is survived by his sister Caroline Weddell Landrum, wife Bertie Weddell, and children Wesley (Seattle) and Angelena (Vancouver, Canada) Weddell. His memoir, Roadcuts Through the Heart, will be published by Deeds Publishing later this year.
A memorial will be planned when it is safe to gather in-person. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation or your local food bank.
Kramer Funeral Home of Palouse, Washington is caring for the family. Online condolences may be left at www.kramercares.com