James Thomas Skelly Wheelock

James Thomas Skelly Wheelock

Died December 28, 2002

Jim died on December 28, 2002 at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital in New York of complications from leukemia, for which he had undergone a bone-marrow transplant the prior March.

Born in Wilmington, DE, 1943, Jim attended the Tower Hill School and the Canterbury School, New Milford, CT. He graduated Magna cum laude from Yale in 1965, receiving a B.A. in Italian studies.

Fluent in three languages, he had a passionate interest in Italian medieval and humanist literature, in particular Dante and Boccaccio, which inspired an impressive career as a scholar. In 1971 Jim earned a Ph.D. from Columbia, where he also received the Woodbridge Distinguished Fellowship and was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to study in Italy.

After living in Milan Jim joined the faculty of the University of Colorado, Boulder, and became the youngest department chair in the university’s history.

In 1980 he made a significant shift in his career, leaving academia to focus on real estate development, in particular historic preservation in the Capitol Hill section of Denver where he lived.

Jim returned to New York in 1986. After years of full-time volunteer work at the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, he became assistant director of the Legal Department and then director of both Intake and Client Services. In 1996 he started JTSW Consulting, specializing in data management for not-for-profit medical organizations. Among his clients was the AIDS Institute of the New York State Department of Health, for which he developed, under the Federal Ryan White CARE Act, an electronic records system to improve medical care and treatment for children with AIDS. That system is currently being used in many states and countries.

In addition to Thomas Padon, his partner of eighteen years, Jim was survived by his son, James T.S. Wheelock, Jr. (from his former marriage to Susan Pettibone).

William LaMotte remembers:
I knew Jim growing up and roomed with him for two years in JE. He was brilliant and witty and generous. I did not have a closer friend. But there was something unsettled about him, and not until after he married and had a wonderful son did he understand that he was gay. I have Jim to thank for flushing out of me all the subtle prejudices against gays. He died young and bravely of a rare blood disease. I still miss him.