James Keane Stack Jr.


Died May 22, 2000

College: Calhoun

Widow: Mrs. Barbara Shragge Stack
716 5th Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94118-3917

Children: James H., 1992; David J. S., 1994

Jim Stack died of leukemia on May 22, 2000. He was six months past his sixtieth birthday. At The Hill School and Yale, Jim was an accomplished student and track athlete. At Hill, he was an honor roll student, captain of the basketball team, and was once told by the Headmaster that he had the worst table manners in the school. He was captain of the Yale track team and made the 800m. Final at the 1960 Olympic Track and Field Trials. At the Harvard-Yale vs. Oxford-Cambridge track meet, he beat the then world record holder in the mile, Herb Elliott, in the 800m. He lived in Calhoun College and was a member of Elihu.

Following graduation from Yale, he taught History at Hill for a year before entering Harvard Law School. One of his students at Hill was Tobias Wolff, the author. On learning of Jim’s death, he recalled this episode: “One of my classmates had a broken leg and Mr. Stack frequently appropriated his crutches during our classes, hobbling pathetically back and forth like Tiny Tim as we discussed the Louisiana Purchase or the Lincoln-Douglas debates or whatever we were talking about in there.” It is painfully obvious now that he could have been a spectacular teacher. He did not practice law, in fact, did not find much satisfaction in most of his professional endeavors until late in his life. At the time of his death, he was enjoying success as an executive recruiter in San Francisco where he had lived since the late sixties.

Those who knew Jim recognized his first rate intellect. He read widely in economics, politics, history, and theology. He was fascinated by the war on the Eastern Front in Europe in World War II and felt the slaughter there was underappreciated in the West. He was also a compulsive student of baseball statistics, carrying batting averages, RBI’s, ERA’s, on-base and slugging percentages in his head ready to be cited at short notice. He loved to talk and to perform. Conversations and toasts came naturally.

I have no doubt that he will be remembered by his many friends, for none of these things, however. Rather, it was his gregarious nature, scintillating wit, irreverent sense of humor, marvelous sense of the absurd and his genuine sense of friendship and loyalty that endeared him to his many friends.

Jim married late in life, and left behind two young sons, James H. Stack, and David J.S. Stack, and his widow, Barbara. Jimmy is now a college freshman and David is a sophomore in high school. The family continues to reside in San Francisco. His twin brother, John, resides in Charlottesville, Virginia.

— By Christopher Stack (younger brother)