James William Morley

July 12, 1921 ~ September 27, 2020 (age 99)


James William Morley (July 12, 1921 – September 27, 2020) was born in Trenton N.J. to Laura and Frederick Morley.  His childhood was spent in New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut where his father served as a Methodist minister.  He left home at sixteen to attend Northwood Prep School and subsequently, graduated with honors from Harvard in 1942.  He met his wife, Barbara Wiley, at Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University and they were married on December 5, 1943.  He joined the Navy where he served as a naval intelligence officer.  After discharge in 1946, he attended Johns Hopkins University and received his Master of Arts degree in 1948.


From 1948 to 1954 Jim taught at Union College in Schenectady New York and completed his PhD in Political Science at Columbia University.  In 1954 he was invited to join the Columbia faculty where he was instrumental in the establishment of the East Asian Institute and served as Director.  Jim devoted himself to his many students and to his research and writing on Japan.  In 1984 he was awarded the Order of The Sacred Treasure Second Class by the Government of Japan for his contribution to U.S.–Japan Relations.


Jim and his wife Barbara “Bobbie” spent most of their retirement years in South Natick, Massachusetts where he was active in the Eliot Church and the Natick Historical Society. Barbara passed away in August 2007.  He is survived by his three children, Thomas Acton (wife Deborah), Carolyn Anne (husband Hiroaki), and John Frederick (wife Sylvia); eight grandchildren, Kimberley (husband Edward), Amanda (husband James), James (wife Abigail), Laura (husband Chrys), Lucas (wife Isabelle), Jack, Naomi, and Jun; as well as six

great grandchildren, Cheyenne, Nathan, Thomas, Eric, Evelyn, and Maple.  He is predeceased by his older brother Robert and his granddaughter Kristen.


Jim was able to spend his retirement doing the things he loved most, research and writing.  He finished two family histories, a history of the Eliot Church, and two histories of Natick.  He spent his summers with family and friends at his childhood summer home in Willsboro, New York enjoying his love of sailing and swimming, and of course, puttering about the cottage making improvements.  He left this world a better place for his contributions and he will be sorely missed.

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