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James Travis Rhea

Jim RheaSeptember 11, 2023

James Travis Rhea was born April 9, 1944, in Paris, Tennessee to William Gardner and Marian Green Rhea. He graduated from E.W. Grove High School and entered Yale in September 1962. He was a Biology Major and was a Ranking Scholar or on the Dean’s List every semester. He was a member of Branford and captained their debate team as well as participating on the Yale Debating Association. He was also involved with the Political Union and Classbook Committee.

The following memories were shared by his roommate Hank Lucas: “I met Jim on our first day at Yale as we were to be freshman roommates. Jim was the second person from Paris Tennessee to attend Yale. We roomed together for all four years in Wright Hall and then Branford. It would be hard to find a better roommate.

“Jim was soft-spoken and one of the hardest working students I encountered at Yale. He was a biology major who graduated Magna Cum Laude and a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Biology requires a lot of labs and I remember Jim coming back from science hill almost every afternoon. In one class he and his classmates dissected a whole pig whom they named Peggy McHamfat. Our senior year, against much resistance, Jim convinced me that we should start jogging. That initiative was probably the best prescription ever for my health.

“After Yale Jim went to Vanderbilt Medical School where his father and brother had received their medical degrees. Jim graduated from medical school in 1970 and from Harvard Business School in 1973. After interning in surgery Jim did a residency in diagnostic radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School and then joined their faculty. His specialty was emergency and trauma radiology. He was President of the American Society of Emergency Radiology from 1995-1996.

“Jim enjoyed a number of visiting professorships including one at the University of California, San Francisco. He was a clinician, researcher, lecturer and teacher. He published more than 130 papers in radiology journals and developed a number of innovations in emergency radiology.

“Toward the end of his career and after retirement Jim focused on medical debt and the cost of healthcare. He was very aware of how medicine was changing, and not always for the better with large corporations employing staffs of doctors. In retirement Jim said that he spent mornings tracking debt at all levels.

“Jim lived in Back Bay Boston and Sudbury Massachusetts with his life partner Steve Bobrinitz.

“We have lost a classmate and the country has lost a great physician.”

He died September 11, 2023 from complications of trauma.

— Hank Lucas


Many of the details of Jim’s life may be found at https://www.dignitymemorial.com/obituaries/sudbury-ma/james-rhea-11458193