Jamie "Jim" Whelan

November 20, 1939 ~ June 17, 2024

Jamie (Jim) Whelan passed away peacefully on Monday, June 17, 2024. He was 84.

Born November 20, 1939, in Fort Wayne, Indiana, he is pre-deceased by his mother, Lucy. Jamie grew up in the Bay Area in California, and after spending time as a young man doing archelogy work in Canada, he settled in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Jamie was hired as an Assistant Professor at McNeese State University in the Fall of 1988 and was promoted to full Professor status in 1999. He retired in the Summer of 2019 after teaching Anthropology, Geography, and Religious Studies for over 30 years. Jamie had a passion for teaching and leading students in discovering their own path through learning about the world.

One of Jamie’s best qualities was leading by example with compassion and grace. His personal website famously included his own story about his first semester in college in which he successfully earned an “F+”. He wanted to encourage his students to keep going no matter what setbacks they faced. He led his courses with a stoicism and quiet, dry sense of humor. Jamie sought to expand minds by teaching about the world’s different belief systems. A lifelong student of religious studies himself, he had a fascination for the deepest questions held by mankind. Through this exploration he identified common threads running through our held beliefs, which reinforced his devotion to his own faith.

Jamie was a long-time member, contributor, and active participant with his church, The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd. He and his wife, Martha, also found their joy adopting dogs who were previously injured or in need of hospice care. Together they cared for multiple pugs throughout the years, ensuring their pets were very loved and had a good quality of remaining life.

He is survived by his soulmate and partner of 30 years, Martha Hunt Whelan, stepchildren, Katherine Pierce of Portland, OR and Dr. Benjamin Pierce of London, UK, stepdaughter in-law, Stefania Federico of London, UK, best friend of over 60 years, Mr. Jim Keenan of Ashland, OR, and countless other close friends. Jamie was affectionately known as “Dado” to his step grandchildren, Mary Rose Pierce and Robert Anthony Pierce.

A Memorial Service will be held at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, 715 Kirkman St., Lake Charles, LA 70601 at 5:00 PM on Sunday June 23, 2024 with a brief reception with the family to follow services. Inurnment will take place at a later date at the columbarium of the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd.

The family would like to note he will be sorely missed, and hope he is resting peacefully surrounded by all the best books.


Memorial Service: Sunday, June 23, 2024
5:00 pm

Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd
715 Kirkman St.
Lake Charles, LA 70601

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Memories Timeline


  1. I will miss my wonderful neighbor of 32yrs. Always greeting me with a gentle voice to say Hello when walking his beloved Pugs. Rest in Peace my Wonderful Neighbor. GodSpeed ,
    Connie Corley

  2. Candle 5Jamie respected everyone and every thing. He will be profoundly missed. Martha and Jamie have always been inspirational to me. With Love and Respect, Emily Harpet

  3. Candle 7It was wonderful serving with Jamie in the Department of Social Sciences of McNeese State University for decades as well as observing his engagement in the community life of Lake Charles.

  4. RIP, Jamie, well deserved! You served academic curiosity well, was a realist, & positively impacted MSU students via your dedication & teaching methods. A great loss for our community!

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