In Memory

James N (Tam) Siedow

James N (Tam) Siedow

In loving memory of our dear Classmate

James Nash (Tam) Siedow
September 21, 1947 - November 15, 2020

Durham, North Carolina - James Siedow (73) died on November 15 in Croasdaile Village in Durham after a long battle with Parkinson's disease. For 40 years he was a professor of botany (later biology) at Duke University, where he also served as Vice Provost for Research from 2001 to 2017, before retiring from Duke.

Jim was born and raised in Houston, Texas. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Texas and went to Indiana University, where he received his Ph.D. in 1972. There, he met and married Mary Dunn, who preceded him in death in 2017 after 46 years of marriage.

After postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Michigan and Rice University, he joined the faculty at Duke in 1976, where he taught classes ranging from Introductory Biology to Biophysical Plant Physiology and conducted research in plant physiology. He received an award for exceptional teaching at Duke in 1984 and was elected a Fellow of the American Society of Plant Biologists in 2007. He mentored more than 10 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, many of whom have gone on to distinguished careers in academia and the private sector. He served as chair of the Duke Academic Council from 1994 to 1996. His contributions to science and North Carolina included service on the Board of Governors for the Research Triangle Institute from 1999 to 2014 and the Board of Directors of the North Carolina Biotechnology Center from 2001 to 2014.
Jim and Mary traveled to many states and continents for business and pleasure and were occasionally faculty hosts for Duke Alumni Travel.

Jim was an enthusiastic advocate of men's and women's basketball at Duke, modern arts and dance, and birdwatching. He and Mary frequently hosted students, visiting scientists, and friends for dinner around the "big table" in their dining room, where all enjoyed fine food and drink and lively conversation. Jim was known for his quick wit, colorful turn of phrase, and meticulous attention to whether his books were lined up evenly or all of the clocks in the kitchen read the same.

Jim is survived by a brother, Jon, of Las Cruses and a sister, Jamie Stroud, of Ruidoso, New Mexico. They remember him as a good older brother and an honest and good man. He will be sorely missed by them and by far-flung friends, students, and colleagues, all of whom would like to thank his caregivers at Croasdaile for their attentive care. Family and friends wish to express a special appreciation to Lindsey Schultz for her devoted care and lively conversation she provided for Jim.

He will be buried next to his beloved Mary in a private ceremony at St. Matthew Catholic Cemetery. A memorial service will be planned in the future.
Memorial contributions in Jim's name may be made to Meals on Wheels, 2522 Ross Road, Durham, 27703 or The Mary Dunn and James N. Siedow Endowment Fund for the Duke Libraries, Duke Gift Records, Box 90581, Durham 27708. Gifts can also be made through the organizations' websites.

The family is under the care of Hall-Wynne Funeral Service. Online condolences: – select obituaries.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.

Published in & on Nov. 22, 2020.

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03/15/21 01:13 PM #1    

Lindy Clarke (Hall)

Well, damn....  this was a sad thing to read this morning.
We were never "buddies", but were casual friends, the kind you
take for granted. 
I never asked, does anyone know how he got the nickname Tam?
Such a good guy, never heard of a single person that didn't like him.
We always knew he'd grow up to be an academic... most of us knew
he was at Duke, for many years, and I just know his students were
so lucky to get him.
RIP Tam..

03/16/21 10:11 AM #2    

Hilda Carol Smith (Godell)

Oh, yes, Tam was one of those smart fellows who was also a good guy. He tolerated a very unserious student like me who just enjoyed being around someone who knew so much. He answered dumb questions with good-natured patience. That he went on to be a successful professor is no surprise, but certainly a lucky circumstance for the students he taught. What a wonderful legacy he has left.

03/16/21 03:46 PM #3    

Tom Britton

Yes, one heck of a nice guy to be around. Always pleasant and friendly to everyone. As I remember he always had a smile on his face in High School. 

03/16/21 08:51 PM #4    

Michael Germany

Tam was a great friend over the 60 years I have known him. He got his name from a tavern named Tam O'Shanter in Chicago. When he was born, his mother saw a light across the street from the hospital which lit up the room.  She saw it as a sign and nick named him Tam although his legal name comes from his father, who by the way was a star in Texas Chainsaw Massacre. At least that's the way I heard it.  if it wasn't for Tam I would never have graduated from the University of Texas.  He was always studying and was destined for great things. He will be greatly missed.

03/17/21 01:48 PM #5    

Carolyn Johnson (Blake)

Well, darn...such sad news. What an amazing life he had. Our world was definitely a better place due to his presence. To his family, I am so sorry and I know you miss him terribly.

love to you all,


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