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James Harvey McInerney, Jr.

Died: June 12, 2014

Jim was a natural born traveler with great curiosity and an immense interest in the world around him. His job in international finance created numerous travel opportunities, of which he took full advantage. His wife, Jenifer Neils, an archeologist and university professor, often traveled with him; she had her own places to visit, and between them they covered a lot of ground.

Jim took his junior year abroad, enrolling in Sweetbriar’s program in Paris. Jim said that his year in Paris was one of the happiest in his life. He enjoyed good food, great art, and the joie de vivre of Paris. He became bi-lingual in French and traveled the continent. Undoubtedly it was in Paris that Jim developed his great savoir faire.

After graduating cum laude Jim enrolled in Penn Law School but soon decided law was not for him. He joined the Philadelphia National Bank in Philadelphia and worked in international finance.

Jenifer, his future wife, was a Princeton graduate student when they met. Jenifer was attracted by Jim’s sophistication, education, and poise. They married in Minneapolis in 1977 and moved to Swarthmore, where Jim worked for AIG in Delaware. Three years later they moved to Cleveland, and Jim worked at AmeriTrust. Jenifer and Jim had had a son, Jamie (James, IV) in 1981. Jim was a devoted father. Jamie was a fine athlete and Jim attended every one of his son’s lacrosse games. Jim would take his son on trips throughout Mexico and Europe

After 25 years in banking, James retired from Key Bank at age 55, saying he’d had enough. This led to a spirited family discussion, and James agreed to try teaching. He taught for five years at Baldwin Wallace University in suburban Cleveland and discovered that he was quite good at it. Perhaps this was his natural vocation. He seemed to know everything. Jenifer said that if someone at the dinner table asked what was going on in Sri Lanka in 1984, Jim would have an answer. He was a raconteur. People liked listening to him and they liked him.

In his exhaustive travel he seemed interested in everything, but had a particular fondness for Romanesque architecture. Jenifer said they visited world monuments everywhere, but Jim would seek out a pigsty if it had been built in the Romanesque style.

Jim often visited the Middle East. He viewed himself as a peacemaker, a role he often played at work and in his family. He sought avenues for peace between the Israeli and Palestinian people. He visited both Israel and Palestine. He became a passionate advocate of the Palestinian cause. Jenifer said he endured hate mail for his outspokenness.

There is no definitive medical test for Parkinson’s disease. Jim knew something was wrong; he described walking as “slogging through sand.” Finally the diagnosis was confirmed: he had Parkinson’s. He never complained. He continued to travel as long as he could. He demonstrated courage and spirit.

Asked to characterize her late husband, Jenifer said Jim was “the consummate gentleman, not just mannerly, but a gentle person. He was a peacemaker.”

He died June 12, 2014, and his friends and family gathered to celebrate his life on Father’s Day.

John McLaughlin remembers:

I knew Jim all four years at Yale. Jim, John Maguire, and I were freshman roomies in Wright Hall. We wandered together to the freshman convocation where, much to our amazement, we discovered that, for the first time, Yale had used a computer to assign room mates with the intention of assuring that each of us got to meet people of different backgrounds. Jim led us in an uproarious attempt to figure out just exactly how different backgrounds could be for three Irish Catholic boys from New York and Baltimore! We had assumed we were assigned either alphabetically or to an Irish ghetto. John and I teased Jim quite a bit when we discovered that he grew up in Larchmont, but it never phased him. When, to my surprise, my parents moved from upstate NY to Larchmont, Jim was magnanimous. He introduced me to many people and places. His send-off on an ocean liner for his junior year at the Sorbonne was a blast. Bill Vicic and I counted him as a phantom roommate that year, saving him a single room upstairs for senior year and maintaining our double. We shared all the fun of senior year and graduation. I was delighted to count Jim as one of the ushers at my wedding to Suzanne in 1969. He became quite an international traveler. My parents moved to Milwaukee the same year that Suzanne and I moved to Seattle. Jim and I exchanged Christmas cards for years and so kept up with each other a bit. We were not destined to see each other again, much to my regret.