In Memoriam: James Wyly

Remembrance by Mary Wyly

Jim on his 84th Birthday

James Wyly was born in Kansas City Missouri. His mother came from an old family in St. Joseph, Missouri. His father from a family of Presbyterians in South Carolina. He was educated in public schools. For college he chose Amherst because it was far away and hard. He majored in English and studied organ at Smith Henry Mishkin. His friends included Tom Eighmy and Kelley Edey. His fraternity was Chi Phi I think. He graduated in 1959.

After Amherst he enrolled in the new DMA program at the University of Missouri at Kansas City earning his degree in 1964. From 1961 through 1963 he was supported by the Fulbright Commission for his research and dissertation on historic pipe organs of Spain, living in Madrid, the city he regarded as his real home town. He was prepared to teach organ, harpsichord, music theory, music history. 

James taught on the music faculty of Elmhurst College from 1964 to 1968. Then he served on the music faculty of Grinnell College from 1968 to 1976 where he also taught in a humanities program based in classical literature, an interest he embraced for the rest of his life. 

In Chicago he met and married librarian Mary Gae Porter who served as a librarian at Grinnell and later at Chicago´s Newberry Library.

From 1977 through 1985 James devoted himself to the study of clinical psychology and the analytical psychology of Carl Jung. He earned his PsyD from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology in 1981 and his diploma in analytical psychology from from Chicago´s Jung Institute. He maintained a private practice in Chicago from 1981 until 2003, also serving on the staff of 4th Presbyterian Church´s Replogle Counseling Center. He was an active and creative teacher in the training programs of the Jung Institute until 1997.

in the 1990s James worked with several groups of psychologists in Mexico City, people who wanted to study Jungian psychology and become analysts. He taught classes and provided clinical supervision for candidates. 

In 1997 James met paintings conservator Helen Oh who taught painting at the Palette and Chisel Academy. He studied with her until 2003 learning 17th Century techniques that had fascinated him from childhood. 

James and Mary moved to Oaxaca in 2003, first living in a 17th Century house of the late painter Rodolfo Morales. In 2008 the moved into the masterpiece house of architect Guillermo de la Cajiga. There he pursued his passion in the studio of his dreams. At the same time a group of musicians gathered around him to learn and perform music of the Baroque Era. James and Mary hosted 2 or 3 concerts a year until 2023. 

In all of his interests and pursuits James was always a teacher. Many responses to news of his death came from people who said that knowing him and studying with him had set the courses of their lives. He was truly an educator in the original Latin sense of the word. He led people out. He was a beloved maestro.

In 2010 James was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Treatment provided by two young physicians using alternative medicine symptoms were delayed until the summer of 2023 when they actually cured the leukemia but could not reverse the anemia followed. Mary, these doctors and a loyal circle of friends cared for him until he died peacefully in his bed, having penetrated to the secrets of a long and complicated life.

5 Responses

  1. How sad to lose Jim—the world has lost a wonderful person!
    My late husband, John Boyle (who was Director of the Replogle Counseling Center of Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago) hired Dr. Wyly to serve as a Jungian analyst on the staff. He was an important member of the staff for years.

    Along with his musical talents, Jim contributed greatly to many clients and those seeking beauty through the arts. He will be missed!

  2. Jim was my analyst. With his help I made fundamental changes to my life that I could not have conceived of before analysis. He was a kind, but direct man and I am grateful I knew him.

  3. So sorry to hear of Jim’s passing. He was one of my Control Analysts during my analytic training in Chicago in the early 1990’s, and I valued my work with him very much. He was such a free spirit and a brilliant musician, with piercing intuition and a wonderful sense of humor. It pains me that he has left the earth, but hopefully moving on to some other dimensional life that we can only imagine, where his spirit now lives on!

  4. As Jim’s youngest brother, his having left us has affected me more than I had thought possible as the time approached. Despite a very complicated household, we maintained a rather special connection as I looked to Jim for advice or clarity then, and more significantly in later life, he always in the role not just as big brother, but loving mentor and teacher. When my wife and I visited in Oaxaca, along with our youngest son and his wife, 2009, his and Mary’s joy in the life they found there, the respect and love evidenced from his friends, made it a treasured time for all of us, as with Ree Ann’s and my later visit of 2016. These later years were those of speaking freely and honestly, sharing and learning. I miss him.

  5. I was the second of three sons born of James’s (we called him “Jim”) mother. I was a 1940 baby. From the beginning I held Jim in great respect. He was there for me and our parents’ youngest, Allen, as we faced the challenges of growing up and finding our ways to become educated adults – all of us college graduates. Jim was a mentor and an inspiration with phenomenal artistic creativity – an inspiration for every part of my life as a 30-year U.S. Marine Corps officer. Jim’s inspiration challenged me from private to Naval Academy midshipman to colonel. I thank Jim now and forever. Signed: Michael Duncan Wyly.

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