James Williston Obituary (1938-2021) – Ann Arbor, MI

James “Jim” Williston

Ann Arbor, MI – James Duncan Williston died peacefully of complications from Alzheimer’s disease on Thursday morning July 29th. He was 82 years old.

Jim was born in Gardner, Massachusetts on December 7, 1938, to Catherine Elizabeth Mildren Williston of Mousehole, Penzance, United Kingdom, and Blair Duncan Williston of Ontario, Canada. Jim was raised by his maternal grandparents, Catherine Elizabeth and William Henry Mildren. Jim attended Athol High School, where he played the saxophone in the band. He earned a BA in English from Boston University. Upon graduation, he entered the United States Army, where he worked as an instructor for petroleum engineers. After two years he attended Boston University to get his MA in speech therapy.

While he was working on his master’s thesis, Jim asked neighbors at his home to take an IQ test. When he returned to give the results to a neighbor, Rosemary Rice, he asked her out on a date. They later married on August 21, 1965 in Wellesley, MA.

Jim worked as a language pathologist in elementary schools for 43 years, first at the schools in Chatham and Harwich, Cape Cod, and then for the Attleboro Schools in Attleboro, MA. He also had a private practice working with adult patients who had difficulty swallowing.

Jim and Rosemary lived on Cape Cod for four years. In 1969 they moved to Bridgewater, MA, where they worked and raised their family. When they both retired in 2003, they moved to Ann Arbor, MI to be close to their grandchildren.

Jim has been active in supporting the arts and music in Attleboro and across the state of Massachusetts. He has protested several times for better funding. He was an advocate for a cleaner environment and recycled decades before it was a common practice. He treated all people equally. Jim had a special love for cats. Together with Rosemary, they rescued and cared for about 30 cats during their nearly 56-year marriage. Once Jim drove six hours to meet his son Craig in the middle of Pennsylvania to retrieve an abandoned cat that Craig found in New York City.

Jim liked learning new things. Throughout his life he learned tennis, fencing, downhill skiing and sailing, took Portuguese and Russian lessons, and taught himself to play the organ and keys. In his spare time, Jim enjoyed reading crime novels and doing crossword puzzles. Jim had a lifelong dedication to singing. As a child he sang in his church choir. He was a member of the Bridgewater State College Choir for 30 years, along with a number of Ann Arbor choirs. One of the highlights for Jim was singing in Canterbury Cathedral in Canterbury, England.

For thirty years, Jim and Rosemary traveled extensively across Europe and North Africa. Upon retirement, Jim volunteered at SafeHouse. He always enjoyed exercising. He was a regular in the Enhance Fitness class at Ann Arbor Y.

Jim leaves behind his wife Rosemary Rice, son Craig Emerson Williston (Yumi) of New York City, daughter Bethany Rhys Williston (Mike) of Ann Arbor, MI, and Bethany’s children Zachary Heath Williston, Cameron Nate Williston. and Zoey Xiao-Ju Williston.

In accordance with Jim’s request, no service was held. Instead of flowers, please donate to the Humane Society of Huron Valley or your local animal shelter.

Published by Athol Daily News on October 2, 2021.

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