Tribute to Jim Whitefield, 1936 — 2005

by Arvid Adell

Jim Whitefield, 68 years of age, died on July 6th at the University of Minnesota hospital where he had received a stem cell transplant. It had been hoped that the transplant would counter a rare blood disease. We have lost a good friend and Pietisten has lost a faithful subscriber and admirer. When I told Jim that Pietisten was going to publish something I had submitted he said, “Adell,”—he always called persons, including himself, by their last names—“now your have finally made it big!”

Jim was an athlete. He had as smooth a jump shot as you’ll ever see and he played full court basketball up until his hospitalization in Minneapolis. Last time I played with him at the Shawnee Evangelical Covenant Church gymnasium, I noticed he had traded in his aesthetic-pleasing jump shot for a ugly-appearing one-handed set shot, but the “net” result was still the same.

Jim was an adventurer. For the first few years of his professional career, he taught physical education in middle school, constructing an obstacle course for his students rivalling the ones challenging our Special Forces. Abruptly, he gave up his tenure and without any prior experience or training ventured into film-making because “his heart told him to.”

Jim was an artist. He filmed and produced hundreds of educational and documentary films on subjects as diverse as prairie grass in central Kansas to a trip through the Panama Canal—his one big money maker, he used to say.

Many of us will miss “Whitefield”. We are thankful that we knew him. We’ll see him again and he will greet us by our last names, as usual.