Longtime UT Geology Professor James Walls Dies At 87

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Dr. James G. “Jimmy” Walls, who taught geology at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville for 47 years, died Wednesday night at Brakebill Nursing Home. He was 87.

Walls’ upbeat personality and teaching style enamored him to the 45,000 students he taught over the course of his career. He won Outstanding Teacher awards at UT-Knoxville in 1970 and 1972.

“Jimmy was noted for his showmanship and his inimitable ability to interest his students in the concepts of geology,” said Dr. Larry Taylor, a UT geology professor and Walls family friend.

“The university, indeed the world, will long miss this one-of-a-kind teacher, mentor and friend.”

Dr. Harry McSween, head of geological sciences at UT-Knoxville, said, Walls’ career at UT “touched the lives of tens of thousands of people. Many successful geologists around the world were introduced to the field by Jimmy Walls and were influenced by him to pursue it.”

Walls, born in Newton, N.H., taught geology at UT-Knoxville from 1930 to 1977. He also coached the golf team and ushered at UT athletic events.

Walls also worked as Knoxville welfare director from 1956-66 and, until recently, worked in jury selection for Knoxville City Courts.

In 1988, the James G. Walls Lecture Hall was dedicated at the UT-Knoxville Department of Geological Sciences. Last year, the department established the James G. Walls Excellence in Teaching Fund to support introductory geology and continue Walls’ ideals and concepts of effective teaching.

Friends will be received from 6:30-8 p.m., Friday, at Rose Mortuary following a private burial. A memorial service will be held at 8 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the James G. Walls Excellence in Teaching Fund at the UT-Knoxville Geological Sciences Department, or to Central Baptist Church of Bearden.

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Contact: Dr. Larry Taylor (423-974-6013)

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