James Shea, university vice president, professor and avid runner


James, “Jim” Mark Shea, a former vice president of university relations an emeritus professor of communications at Temple University died at his home at Cathedral Village in Philadelphia on March 20. He was 94.

Shea was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He joined the Navy at the age of 18 and later earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri on the GI bill. He earned a masters’ degree at University of Oregon.

He was a director of university relations and development at University of Oregon but was recruited by Temple University to serve as its vice president of university relations. He finished his career at the school as an emeritus professor of communications. In his role at Temple, he hosted dignitaries including Presidents Ford and Carter and Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping. He also ran the Temple Music Festival, a beloved outdoor summer festival that hosted acts such as Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington. He retired in 1997.

Throughout his life, Shea was an avid runner. His passion for running began at University of Oregon where he formed a long-lasting friendship with legendary track coach and Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman. He was a major contributor to Bowerman’s seminal 1966 book on running, “Jogging: A Medically Approved Physical Fitness Program for All Ages.” In Philadelphia, he remained active in the running scene, competing annually in the Philadelphia Distance Run and Broad Street Run. During this time, he hosted a local TV segment on running technique and always encouraged family members to lace up their sneakers.

Shea was also a huge history buff, an enthusiastic sports fan (college hoops, Owls football and any team playing against the Dodgers who had deserted Brooklyn). He loved a good joke, the history behind words and most of all, spending time with his beloved wife of 35 years, Ardis Shea. They spent many happy years exploring Philadelphia neighborhoods, traveling to visit friends and family and sharing their love of classical music as season ticket holders at the Philadelphia Orchestra.

He is survived by Ardis, his children, Dorothy, James, Maggie and John, two stepchildren, Tonda and Jefferson, and five grandchildren Tessa, Acadia, Grace, Nolan and Lulu. He was preceded in death by his parents James and Margaret Shea and his sister, Margaret (“Sally”) Quigg.

Due to COVID, there will be no service at this time, but a celebration of life will be held later this year. Remembrances can be made in the form of contributions to the Temple University Libraries in honor of Jim’s lifelong love of reading. See giving.temple.edu/


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