James Helm

The following was posted on Facebook by Kirk Ormand at Oberlin College:

It is with a terrible sadness that the Oberlin Classics Department must announce the sudden and unexpected passing of Jim Helm, professor emeritus, mentor, teacher, and friend. Jim and his wife Anne were traveling this past week, and Jim apparently died suddenly and unexpectedly.

Jim was a humble, kind, and principled man with a sly sense of humor and a fondness for terrible puns. He will be remembered for many accomplishments, virtues, and characteristics; I offer a few here. Jim was a good and great teacher, particularly of the Greek language; generations of students first read Plato's *Apology* with Jim, and generations more are still reading the *Apology* from Jim's deeply learned student commentary. I am teaching from it now, and I learn from Jim on every page.

 It was Jim who started Oberlin's "Bardic Reading" in 1993, a nearly-yearly event in which students of Oberlin Classics read aloud a long work of classical literature (most traditionally, the *Iliad*, *Odyssey* or *Aeneid*; less traditionally, the extant works of Aristophanes, or [once!] Lucan's *de bello civili*). In the early years of the event, Jim would stage it on Sunday in the 'Sco; Jim always stayed until the end, would help wrap things up at 3 or 4 am Monday, and then appear, alert and apparently refreshed for his 9:00 am class -- much to the amazement of his dazed and exhausted students.

Jim retired, characteristically, at the age of 65, not because he was done teaching, but because he felt that he should make room in a crowded field for a younger scholar. Jim always did the right thing, simply and quietly, with principle but without demonstration, no matter the cost to himself.

As will all of us, I will miss Jim a great deal. Perhaps most of all, I will miss the sly grin he used to show when he had a really terrible pun to spring on the unsuspecting. His delight in these moments was always infectious, and it is that fleeting moment of sheer enjoyment - just before the pun - that stays with me today.

Our deepest condolences to Anne, Jim's surviving son Bennet, and all of their family members.