In memory of Leonard Douglas James, age 83 beloved husband, father and grandfather.  Douglas is survived by his wife Zhida Song James, his daughters Rocelia (Frank) Kmak and Roxanne James (Kevin) Kelsey, his grandsons Stephen Kmak, Matthew James Kelsey, William James Kelsey, and Alexander James Kelsey, his sister Diana (Stan) Holtz, and his nephew Brent (Natalie Saldou) Holtz. 

Please feel free to share the link to this site with others who may want to remember Douglas.
Posted by Naraa Kh on April 3, 2021
He is gone already but never will be forgotten. Can’t believe it’s been a whole year. I still miss him a lot. Thank you grandpa for leaving me such a good memories.
Posted by Hillery James on April 3, 2021
So many times this past year I've missed corresponding with Douglas. Our bond was James family history, and I've learned much that I know would have interested him. Plus in these troubling times, I've missed his gracious presence on email. He was a light - a candle in dark places - and I miss him.
Posted by Scott Korom on November 26, 2020
Dear Zhida, I’m so sorry to learn of Doug’’s passing. I just read about it in the USU Engineering magazine. Doug was a kind and gentle man. What a contrast to many of our leaders these days. He went out of his way to be generous to me.

Grace and peace to you.
Posted by Hillery James on August 6, 2020
I am so sad to learn that Douglas passed away in April. For many years we exchanged James family information while building an online friendship that meant the world to me. Douglas provided rare and precious insight into my father's family, but most of all he was a great correspondent! Sincere sympathy to all his family and friends; he is missed already.
Posted by Myrna James on June 1, 2020
It was a shock to hear that Doug had died. I know he was looking forward to going the the July event on Pike's Peak. I was happy to make the connection for him with the Olsens in Temecula..who are direct descendants of Dr.
Edwin James...the first person up Pike's Peak.  I also smiled when I got an e-mail from Doug...he always began "Howdy Myrna".  Dear Zhida..we have never met but I hope we will someday. I wish you the best of life to come and for some happy memories.
Posted by Boris Shmagin on May 17, 2020
It is a sad news. I see him as one of the most significant personalities in organizing hydrologic research in the country.
I knew Doug from 2002, I was volunteering and then working for one month as consultant in his hydrologic section of the NSF. With his advice and help I learn a lot about academic community during those six months. 
I did not complete discussion with him on use of Artificial Intelligent in the management of water resources. He sent in email on November of last year:
“The greatest challenge in modeling is to capture the scope of all that is important, both through laws operating at relevant scales in the physical and biological sciences and in the breadth of factors that impact how people and communities think. Modeler focus on how people “should” think (according to economics, social justice, etc.) and neglect the rationale that people actually followed in past decision making. We can point to past “bad” decisions and blame ignorance when perhaps AI could now reveal overlookEd motives. The use of AI to expose past decision making drivers opens fruitful scientific inquiry. Past water resources management abounds in heretofore hidden motivations.”
I was preparing the reply. 
Posted by Hongjun Yao on May 5, 2020
I am truly thankful for knowing Douglas James. Doug's wisdom, calmness and patience contributed to my giving Ziqi the same name in English, which was accepted immediately with satisfaction.

He wrote beautifully in his Christmas updates. Receiving my Christmas updates, you should know that I am trying to emulate him. In this way, we remember him at least every Christmas season.

We never talked much; he never gave me suggestions or guidance as far as I can recall. Nonetheless, he touched the lives of me and my son in a profound way.
Posted by Don Sun, 孙晓光 Sun on April 28, 2020
So sorry to hear the news about Doug's passing away. I hope that my friend shuiwen will be strong and healthy to continue her own life's journey. You both have given us (Andrew Yang's team) so much inspiration and support. Our team wants to express our deepest sympathy. We will all miss him.
Posted by Dee Woodbury on April 22, 2020
We at Zepher Ridge will miss seeing Doug as we walked each day in our community. He was always so pleasant, and interesting to talk to when I would see him out and about. He and Zhida would often be working in their beautiful yard and we would stop and chat. I will miss the get togethers we shared as neighbors. We were so looking forward to their return to Nevada and to hear about another exciting trip. My heart is so heavy with his passing. Prayers and love to Zhida and Doug's family
Posted by Daphne Grabovoi on April 20, 2020
I will miss seeing Doug walking the community, slowly but surely. I will miss seeing him at our occasional get togethers over pizza, holidays or even pie nights! Doug went out of his way to help me with fruit tree issues and thanks to him, I will have a bumper crop this year! He and Zhida were instrumental in transforming our community rock pile into a small park for everyone's enjoyment. I will miss his kindness and the twinkle in his eye when I brought out a slice of delicious pie and set it in front of him. I send condolences to his family and Zhida. Rest in peace, Doug.
Posted by Veronique Pazhwak on April 18, 2020
Neighbors on Mosby Rd in Fairfax city will miss Doug, who was always kind, cheerful and open to exchanging thoughts and observations. We would often see him gardening with Zhida, talking long walks, initially with his two beloved chows, then with one and then either by himself or with Zhida. Doug often joined us when we celebrated a graduation or a 4th of July in our yard. We always enjoyed his presence and conversation during those events. He would always stop to engage in a conversation when we met during our walks or while doing garden work. I can only say that we regret his absence, and we will always remember his kindness and amiable disposition. We wish much courage to Zhida and his family in this difficult loss. When times get better, Zhida please know that our door is always open at 10009 Mosby, and never hesitate to call on us. With our thoughts and prayers.
Posted by Bayani Cardenas on April 15, 2020
Prof. Douglas James had the kindest words and wisest advice to share with a young hydrologist. The few precious minutes I spent with him in his office in DC and over the telephone launched me on my professional path. Thank you Dr. James, and rest well.
Posted by Ian MacGregor on April 15, 2020
I was so saddened to hear of Doug’s death. It brought back memories of our time together at the National Science Foundation. At the time I was Division Director for Earth Sciences and had the good fortune of having Doug as the first Director of the Hydrologic Sciences Program. When I suddenly got letters from leaders of the Hydrology community supporting our choice I quickly learned, and with time understood, why we had made a sound decision. 

Starting with a clean slate and limited funding his legacy gave birth to the Hydrology Program’s success that it enjoys today. 

Doug was always accessible and gave generously of his time and advice. Being a novice in the field of hydrology I often needed his guidance. I always enjoyed his clear advice and valued being his “student”.

Please accept my condolences for your loss.

Ian MacGregor.
Posted by Richard Cuenca on April 15, 2020
It was with a sad heart that I learned of the passing of Doug James. Doug hired me as a Program Director for Hydrologic Sciences at NSF in 2008, and we worked together for over two years until his retirement. Mostly I just listened and learned from Doug, but little by little I better understood the workings of NSF and the liaison role the Hydrologic Sciences program played with other US Government agencies. Doug and I figured out early on that we both had old California roots going back to the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. 
Doug was a tremendous mentor, always patient and always looking to protect and aid the research community in Hydrologic Sciences. Doug’s contributions to the Hydrologic Science community are unparalleled. Through cooperation with various related programs at NSF, we were always able to considerably expand the support for the Hydrologic Sciences program. Doug never left a stone unturned when it came to support for the program. With his pioneering work in Hydrologic Sciences at NSF, he leaves a legacy for which he will always be remembered. 
Posted by Zhida Song-James on April 14, 2020
It was a pleasure for me to join USU and see Doug in person (he was Director of the Water lab at that time) after having used his book in courses in India.
I joined USU in 1991 and was fortunately part of the last batch of students in his Water res planning and Stanford watershed modeling classes, before
he left for D.C. in 1992.
I met him a few times at conferences after he left USU, but had several interactions – always caring. Those memories that are fresh in my mind, mean a lot now and will cherish them even more dearly.
He was highly respected, warm and an exceptional human being,
in all interactions. Not to mention his impactful service to the Hydrology community at large at NSF and beyond. Fruits of which, we are benefitting.
He will be dearly missed, but generations of hydrologists will remember, feel and live his legacy.

R. Balaji (Balaji Rajagopalan), Professor & Chair,
Department of Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering &
Fellow, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES)
University of Colorado
Posted by Zhida Song-James on April 14, 2020
It is really sad to see a great colleague and a mentor passing away. He was true gentleman and very passionate about research and science and very committed to spreading the joy of research. He was a good mentor to me even after leaving USU. He sent an email few months back after forgetting to congratulate me on my appointment to the deanship and this tells me the caliber of Doug as a human being and a great supporter of USU colleagues. I just told my wife, Indira, about the dinner that we had at your place just before two of you left for DC. Please accept our condolences in this sad times and hope you will recover from this shock soon. Take care!

Jagath Kaluarachchi
Dean | College of Engineering
Professor | Civil and Environmental Engineering
Utah State University
Posted by Zhida Song-James on April 14, 2020
From Taiye Sangoyomi:

To us his students, he was Dr. James. He was a truly wonderful person, so caring and trying to make the best for all his students.

He was instrumental in my being at Utah State University. I remember writing him while I was still in Nigeria, seeking to go to the US for an engineering graduate degree, never expecting to receive a response. To my utmost surprise, he responded to my letter (there was no email in those days), and we ended up corresponding several times, which led to him offering me a graduate research assistant position at the Utah Water Lab. He was also on my PhD defense committee. Without him, I probably wouldn't be in the position I am now.

Over the years, I thought on and off about him, and wish I had been able to reconnect to let him know how instrumental he was in my career.

My deepest sympathies to you and your family.
Posted by Zhida Song-James on April 14, 2020
I had many contacts with Doug throughout his career, perhaps especially as a member of numerous panels and committees when he served the hydrology community at the NSF. Doug's passing is an unbelievable loss to our community.
George M Hornberger
Vanderbilt Institute for Energy and Environment
Posted by Zhida Song-James on April 14, 2020
It is with a heavy heart that I write this note on behalf of the Division of Earth Sciences at NSF. Many of us had the fortune to work with Doug while he managed the Hydrologic Sciences Program. And although we interacted with him in different ways, all of us remember his selflessness, kindness, willingness to share his views, and commitment to the scientific community. There is no doubt that Doug has left a major legacy through a robust and solid research program at NSF, through the mentoring of many early career scientists and program directors, and through his writings on the role that hydrologic sciences should play in society. We hope that this legacy helps to alleviate a little bit the void he leaves.

Lina C. Patino, PhD
Director, Division of Earth Sciences
National Science Foundation
Posted by David Tarboton on April 14, 2020
I was deeply saddened to hear this news. Doug was an amazing person. He was director of the Utah Water Research Lab when I started there in 1990. His guidance was formative in my early career. I was warmly welcomed into the lab and Doug included me in the Severe Sustained Drought Project on the Colorado River that introduced me to the practical and challenging interdisciplinary issues of water resources management. I remember Doug as a person who served the community and advocated for the use of science and data in making water resources policy and economic decisions. His career bridging water resources economics and hydrologic science expressed this and I am grateful for our interactions at the lab and later while he ably advanced Hydrologic Science at the NSF. My heart does out to Doug’s family.
Posted by Zhida Song-James on April 13, 2020
I am very sad to learn the passing of Prof. Douglas James. I met with him many years ago but had a verygood impression. Prof. James was a gentle and kind scholar and he was well-respected by his peers nationally and internationally. I wish him rest in peace.
Yours sincerely
Zhaoyin Wang
Professor, Tsinghua Univ, PR China
Posted by Thomas Jackson on April 13, 2020
It was with great sadness that I learned of Dr. L. Douglas James' passing.

I had the privilege of working for Doug at the UWRL in the early 90s on applied research and taking his courses in Parametric Hydrology, Water Resource Systems Planning, and Institutional Analysis.

Besides being an engineer and a scholar of distinction, with expertise and interest in a wide range of subjects, he was a great teacher, mentor, and friend.

He will be missed and remembered by many, many people across the globe.
Posted by John Selker on April 13, 2020
In his role as program manager, it was necessary to deny funding more often than to support a project. But Doug would work with the writers and use the reviews to lift the scientists to achieve better science, stronger proposals, and strengthen the community. He would also go the extra mile, and beyond, to search for support for the proposals that he did not have funds for, but thought should move forward. He was a prince of a man, and did a great deal to elevate the entire field of hydrology though his patient, kind, and dedicated efforts. He is much loved, and will be terribly missed. My heart goes out to his family.

John Selker, Oregon State University
Posted by Patty Brooking on April 13, 2020
I am one of the administrative staff in the Division of Earth Sciences. I had worked with Dr. James on many projects. I worked with him on the SAHRA and CUSHAI programs. I always enjoyed working with him. After he retired, he would come in the office to visit and catch up with people. He always stopped by my cubicle to see how I was doing. I will always remember him telling me the story of how his grandparents survived the great earthquake of San Francisco of 1906. He was a good and honorable man who cared about people. He will be missed but his spirit will live on.
Posted by Scott Tyler on April 12, 2020
Doug was an amazing person who touched so many of us and so many things we do as hydrologists and environmental scientists. From the time I first met him, he put his efforts and energies into making things better and building things for what we now call, the “community” of hydrology. Whenever we use that term today, please think of Doug and how he devoted his career to building that community. And also think carefully of your own actions and how you can try to follow his lead.

On the personal side, it was Doug who funded my first PI grant at NSF. His review panel rated the proposal as “risky”, yet was willing to take a chance on a kid without much of track record. He and I had the pleasure of then working together as he developed the CUAHSI concepts, and I further learned a great deal from him about leadership and making a difference. The reality is that I would not have had half the career I have been fortunate enough to have it were not for Doug James. And I know that I am not the only one to have had the honor to learn from his leadership.

We will forever miss Doug James, the “mayor” of our community of hydrologists. 

From my wife Constance and me, we offer our deepest sympathies to his wife, family and friends.
Posted by Naraa Kh on April 13, 2020
My heart aches to hear this news. I still can’t believe he is gone.
I have lost my grandpa who used to call me his adopted granddaughter, i have lost my friend who had 50 year age gap with me but always was there to listen to my stories and give me the best advice, i have lost my influencer who loved adventures and traveled around the world in his 80s. He loved to share his experiences with me and sends me the photos of every places he visited.
James, you were such a caring and loving grandpa, a good listener and a mentor, a nice and very kind human-being. You left me beautiful memories. You will never be forgotten, you will remain in my heart forever.
I am so sorry for your lose Zhida, my thoughts and prayers are with you.
Posted by Urna Myagmar on April 12, 2020
It's terrible to hear about the loss and I express my sincere sympathy to you Zhida and your extended family.
I became one of his Mongolian granddaughters when I met him at the cafe, First Watch couples of years ago. Dr. James and his wife Zhida are such nice people inviting us over dinner, having good talk and sharing their experiences. I don't forget they had a note pad that every guest writes their thoughts when they visit first time at their house. I do not remember what I wrote but probably wrote that it was a great Thanksgiving night to me. 
Since then, whenever he is in Fairfax, VA, we try to have breakfast meeting once in a while talking about his and his wife's next travel plan and my plans (A,B&C) on my work and life. He was such a good listener ..
I was so prepared to our regular breakfast meeting to tell him my across the country travel adventures and surprise him with my other plan changes (again) when he'd come to Fairfax.
Words cannot describe what I am feeling. Remembering his wonderful and gentle soul will forever remain in our hearts. May he rest in peace!
Posted by Crystal Bolor on April 13, 2020
My deepest condolences to His family. I meet him in 2013 in First Watch restaurant ( His regular place often had breakfast and lunch). I used to work there and he was my regular customer. He was really interested Mongolian history and we talked about history a lot. He became my American grandpa and always called me his mongolian granddaughter. When i decided to back to country he came to airport and said goodbye to me. Right after a year later he visited to my country in July 2018 and it was big surprise and we had good memories together. He was such a great person. I will always remember his kindness. Rest in peace James.
Posted by Thomas Smith on April 12, 2020
Passing all our thoughts and prayers to Zhida and her family on their tragic loss. We are all better persons for having known, worked, or studied with Doug. He certainly was a good husband, professor, mentor, and just an overall nice man. I first knew of Doug professionally with his work at the National Science Foundation, then later when some of his former students came to work at Michael Baker Jr, Inc. (International). Everyone of those former students had nothing but good things to say about Doug as their professor, mentor, and friend.

It wasn’t till his wife, Zhida, came to work for Michael Baker that I got to know Doug from the personal side. Zhida and I worked in the same group at Baker for 10 years. Zhida retired in 2015, which allowed them to expand their travels the over the globe on safaris, river and ocean cruises, and many other fabulous trips. My wife and I had the opportunity to meet with them on numerous occasions grabbing breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner, whenever they were not on their world travels. Although, I have never left the USA, I feel somewhat like a world traveler just listening to them talk about their many trips over that last 5 years.

I know I can speak for all Zhida’s “Baker Buddies” when I say we were all saddened to hear of Doug passing. We will all miss Doug and wish Zhida and her family peace and love.

Tom and Sharon Smith
Posted by Kranti Mulik on April 10, 2020
Dr. James has been a part of my life for as long as can remember. When my sister told me he had passed away, I was shocked and saddened and suddenly 30 some years of memories flashed before my eyes. As a young girl, I remember him as a regular visitor at our apartment in Logan, Utah when my father was studying for his PhD. My mother would always cook up a storm when he came over for dinner. He loved Indian food and had a lot of affinity for the country and its people, especially Pune. I remember being intimidated my him. He was reserved but once he got talking he would talk for hours. As I got to know him over the years, I found him to be kind, caring and very down to earth. As an adult when I moved to the US, I was living in the Midwest and would visit my sister, who lived in Fairfax, several times a year. Dr. James and his loving wife Zhida would always make it a point to visit with me whenever I was in town. I remember their warm hospitality, thanksgiving meals, wonderful food, lively conversations and playing board games in their lovely home. Those fond memories will always stay with me.

Over the years as we got busy with our lives those visits became less frequent. The last time I met him was in the summer of 2015. He came over to our house for dinner when my parents were visiting us from India. It seemed like old times again. Zhida, unfortunately couldn’t make it because she was sick. We had a leisurely dinner that lasted several hours. My husband took pictures before he left and I am glad they got the opportunity to meet. We promised to keep in touch since we lived so close to each other, little did I know then that it would be the last time I would see him. 

We spoke over the phone several times over the last few years promising to meet for dinner soon. I regret not meeting him one more time. The last time I spoke with him was after he and Zhida returned from their trip to India. He was very happy and told me how much he enjoyed his trip to Pune. I could picture his smiling face and the twinkle in his eyes and that’s how I would always like to remember him.

I will always be grateful for the opportunity to know Dr. James and spend time with him. My heart goes out to Zhida and the rest of his family. My thoughts and prayers are with them and may God give them the strength to persevere in this difficult time.


Posted by Upmanu Lall on April 10, 2020
Doug influenced multiple generations of hydrologists and water scientists over his career. He was incredibly thoughtful, supportive and patient with people, especially younger researchers entering the field. He was curious and sought to learn from each person and engaged them very respectfully in an academic discourse covering a very wide range of topics. He was able to relate the practical and the theoretical, across a spectrum of fields. His scientific contributions reflected the synthesis of such interactions as well as original ideas and methods. He brought prominence to the Utah Water Research Laboratory, nationally and internationally, and for many of us was a model of leadership.
It is a sad day when we lose Doug to COVID, but we can fondly remember and revere him for the impact he had directly and indirectly on our lives.
Posted by Al Valocchi on April 10, 2020
Doug was the instructor in my first of many hydrology classes. I was a beginning masters student at Stanford where Doug was on sabbatical leave.  While he was winding down his time at NSF, I was fortunate to get one of my proposals funded by the Hydrologic Sciences program. 

Through his role at NSF and support of junior scientists, CUAHSI and other programs, Dr. James in many ways left his imprint on the field of hydrologic science. 

My deepest sympathy and condolences to his family.
Posted by Graham Fogg on April 10, 2020
What a profoundly sad loss! Doug's generosity, dedication and wisdom made us all better scientists and human beings. I am forever grateful to him. My heart goes out to Doug's family!

With Deepest Sympathy,
Graham Fogg

Posted by Thomas Harter on April 10, 2020
My deepest sympathies to Doug's family. As for many others, Doug really shaped my relationship with NSF as I moved into my faculty career. He was a great mentor and I appreciated how personable he was. Living and working in a University of California research center near Fresno, it was particularly fun to find out that Doug had grown up in my (then new) neck of the woods, around Stockton and Modesto - and sharing stories about water in the San Joaquin Valley. Doug, you will be missed!

Thomas Harter, University of California at Davis
Posted by Brad Hall on April 10, 2020
Dr. James was a great mentor and advisor during my USU years. Those were exciting times measuring and modeling the Wasatch Front mobilize and flow into the rapidly rising Great Salt Lake. I was fortunate to have had Doug's guidance and advice through my graduate studies. My deepest condolences to his family.

Brad Hall, Principal
Northwest Hydraulic Consultants
Posted by Jon Martin on April 10, 2020
As with so many others, Doug guided me through my early years as a faculty member. He provided advise on what a proposal should be and thus essentially how to do science. He was a kind and gracious person and I offer his family my sincerest condolences.
Posted by Shemin Ge on April 10, 2020
My deepest condolences. I much appreciate Dr. James’ leadership, mentorship, and contribution to hydrological sciences. He will be greatly missed.         Shemin Ge, University of Colorado Boulder
Posted by Jun XIA on April 10, 2020
I was profoundly to hear the sad news on pass away of Prof. Douglas James. Prof. Douglas James was a very kind of peoples who made great contributions on NSF and education in sciences and technology in the world.

Please accept my sincere condolences and best regards to his family.

Prof. Jun XIA
IUGG Fellow, IUGG Bureau member
Academician of Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS)
Professor & Director, Research Institute for Water Security(RIWS)
   Wuhan University, 430072, China
Director, Center for Water Resources Research, CAS
   Anwai Datun Road A11, 100101, Beijing, China
Posted by Paul Brooks on April 9, 2020
I am so sad to hear this news. Doug was program director at NSF from my days as a grad student through to full professor. His leadership and contributions to hydrology research and funding at NSF spanned program growth, the funding of the SAHRA STC, and the emergence of Interdisciplinary Critical Zone Observatories. My thoughts and best wishes go out to his family, friends, and colleagues
Paul Brooks
Posted by Anjuli Bamzai on April 9, 2020
Back in the late 1990s, I met Doug Day 1 of my stint as an IPA rotator in the Climate Dynamics program at NSF. Although we worked in different Divisions, we worked on topics of mutual interest to our respective research communities, oftentimes co-funding projects between the Hydrological Sciences program and Climate Dynamics. Doug was managing SAHRA, the Science and Technology Center and sought input on matters pertaining to hydroclimate. He was a wonderful colleague and I learnt much from him.

Doug and his wife live in Fairfax and over weekends I'd sometimes run into him in Fair City mall. Our friendship grew even as he retired from NSF. He returned as expert and he'd come by for a chat on emerging topics in hydrology.

It is hard to accept this loss. He is the first friend I've lost to this terrible pandemic and I hope he's the last. My deepest condolences to his wife and extended family. 

Anjuli S. Bamzai
Division Director, Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences
Posted by Witold Krajewski on April 9, 2020
Sad news about Doug. Such a nice person... I first met him at Utah State University in 1980; he later talked me into writing my first NSF proposal in mid 80s, way before he became a program officer. Thank you Doug for many kind interactions and for your support for the community vision of CUAHSI. We will miss you.
Posted by Thomas Meixner on April 9, 2020
So sad. Doug was the program officer when I was awarded my first grant and was also the program officer who shepherded SAHRA in its early years. A kind and gentle mentor Doug will be greatly missed. Truly sad.
Posted by Ming Ye on April 9, 2020
My first NSF project was funded by Dr. James. We had an appointment for 30 minutes, but talked for more than an hour. He asked me many tough questions, and I thought that there would be no chance to be funded. But he called me next several days to fund my project. The conversation was like happening yesterday, and it actually reshaped my way of thinking. I am sure that he helped many hydrologists one way or another. May He rest in peace!
Posted by Zhida Song-James on April 9, 2020
Professor Duan's email of April 8 to Jerad Bales about the passing of Doug was forwarded to me from NSF. I am currently retired, but for many years was the Program Officer for Physical and Dynamic Meteorology in the Atmospheric Sciences Division at NSF. In that capacity, Doug and I worked together quite a bit and we both were especially interested in getting the hydrologic and meteorological communities to work more closely together. To that end, we jointly supported many a grant and also provided funds for joint meetings between the two communities. There are Program Officers at NSF that are a joy to work with and Doug was one of those.

I would appreciate your passing my condolences to his family and my wishes for a speedy recovery for Doug’s wife.


Steve Nelson

Formerly Program Officer for Physical and Dynamic Meteorology and Section Head for Center and Facilities

Division of Atmospheric Sciences Division

National Science Foundation 
Posted by Zhida Song-James on April 8, 2020
This is a sad news ! Wish Dr James will reach heaven to stay with God together Also, hope his wife to recover soon.

Sent from my iPhone (Prof Xixi Wang)
Posted by Zhida Song-James on April 8, 2020
I also knew Doug well, especially during SAHRA & when I was at NCAR. He was a strong voice for hydrologic science at NSF & a genuinely nice man.

Very best,

Larry Winter
Posted by Zhida Song-James on April 8, 2020
I was extremely saddened and in disbelief upon learning the passing of Prof. Douglas James. Doug was someone I admired and got to know more closely when I was on faculty at the Univ. of Virginia. One year he was invited by Prof. Yacov Haimes to spend his sabbatical at UVA and during that time I also met Mrs. (宋智达)and we became good friends. During Doug's stay at NSF I had visited him multiple times trying to get some funding (). However, after he left NSF and after I retired from UVA I somehow lost contact with them for many years.

Doug was a gentle, kind and matter-of-fact scholar and he was well-respected by his peers nationally and internationally. It is so unfortunate that they went on to that ill-fated cruise (us retirees do that all the time). We will miss him dearly. I wish Mrs. ' speedy and full recovery. Do you happen to have her contact information so I could call or e-mail her? Thanks.

With best regards,
Shaw L. Yu, PhD, Hon.DAWRE, LM, ASCE
Emeritus Professor
Univ. of Virginia

Leave a Tribute

Recent Tributes
Posted by Naraa Kh on April 3, 2021
He is gone already but never will be forgotten. Can’t believe it’s been a whole year. I still miss him a lot. Thank you grandpa for leaving me such a good memories.
Posted by Hillery James on April 3, 2021
So many times this past year I've missed corresponding with Douglas. Our bond was James family history, and I've learned much that I know would have interested him. Plus in these troubling times, I've missed his gracious presence on email. He was a light - a candle in dark places - and I miss him.
Posted by Scott Korom on November 26, 2020
Dear Zhida, I’m so sorry to learn of Doug’’s passing. I just read about it in the USU Engineering magazine. Doug was a kind and gentle man. What a contrast to many of our leaders these days. He went out of his way to be generous to me.

Grace and peace to you.
his Life

Professional Biography

L. Douglas James (BS ’57, MS ’58, PhD ’65, Stanford University) dedicated his life to serving the water resources and hydrology community and leaves an important legacy in the field.

James served on the faculty at University of Kentucky and was a professor with the Environmental Resources Center at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He was a professor of Utah State University, and served as Director of the Utah Water Research Laboratory from 1976 to 1992 where he championed several important initiatives including the Sustained Drought Project on the Colorado River, a program that still impacts Colorado water issues today.  James served as the first Director for Hydrologic Sciences Program at National Science Foundation from 1992 to 2009, where he managed federal funding to support and expand researches in hydrology.  He was credited to build the hydrologic research community and called the “mayor” of hydrologic researchers by his colleagues.

James authored many research studies including a 1965 manuscript that was published in the very first edition of Water Resources Research, which today is the leading journal in the field. He also wrote an authoritative 1971 textbook titled, “Economics of Water Resources Planning,” a 640-page book that became a standard text in the field for more than 20 years. James also edited the influential 1974 text “Man & Water: The Social Sciences in Management of Water Resources.” The text was among the first to bridge the social sciences and hydrology toward a better understanding of water resources management. He was a recipient of the Utah Governor’s Medal for Science and Technology in 1991. People who worked with James say he was a highly respected researcher, a tremendous mentor and a beloved colleague.


"James Family Memories," written by Douglas James on June 12, 2018

We often greatly simplify family history down to lists of names, dates, and places listing births, marriages, and deaths.  We can do much better by passing on to future generations stories of our lives the surroundings in which we lived, the challenges we faced, and the goals we achieved.  Such information acquaints our heirs with real people. Descriptions of who past generations were go a long way toward telling who we are. It satisfies a yearning to know our heritage and it helps our children and grandchildren understand where they came from.  
 * * *

I was born on August 4, 1936 in Stockton California, at the height of the peach harvest; and during 1936, my father was working for the MorPak Cannery where his brother Albert held a management position. After the peach harvest ended in September, Father returned to continue his education at Stanford Law School.  However, our country was in the midst of the Great Depression. While Father made it through the 1936-37 school year, he lacked funds for the fall term in 1937. We returned to Denair CA, where both my James and my Spencer grandparents lived, and moved in with my mother’s parents, Dana and Pearl Spencer. For 1937-38, Father rented out our Palo Alto home in hopes of returning. At Denair, he was employed in the orchards of both of my grandfathers. The main jobs were first pruning the apricots at the Spencer farm and then pruning the peaches at the James farm.
 * * * 

Adding a Little Sister:  I well remember the day my parents brought Diana home from the hospital in April 1939.  For the first year and a bit, she was limited to crawling around the living room floor while I could walk all over the house, ride my tricycle outside, and roam outside.  When I became old enough to have a “real” bed, Diana got my crib.  It was a great day when I was playing in the yard and saw a delivery truck bringing a new bed for a “big boy.”  That bed is still used by my grandson Alexander Kelsey in Illinois. 
* * *

Boyhood Wanders over Sixty Acres: From ages four through eight, my parents gave me freedom to wander over our yard, orchards, and fields.  I climbed our hill, strolled along the lake, rested in the shade of the eucalyptus grove, but avoided the smelly hog pens.  I enjoyed the springtime blooms of golden poppies and red paintbrush flowers that covered the fields before they were cultivated for planting.  Father taught me the names of the many plants that grew wild in the fields and near the lake.  I carried water to our animals and played with the lambs and kittens.  I climbed a favorite walnut tree and gained additional nerve to go higher as I grew older.  My father bought a kite and helped me fly it.  After the wind carried the kite high into the air, we felt that it would be such a shame to bring it down that we tied the string to my walnut tree and let the kite fly for days until it came down during calm weather.  During winter rains, my outdoor explorations were limited by mud that soiled clothing and ruined shoes, but I still wandered outside wearing “galoshes” over my shoes.  It was a great spring day when the weather warmed enough to permit swimming, and I would pester Mother until she was free to go down to the lake to watch me swim and perhaps go in herself.

Other memories include befriending a Mexican apricot picker named Sixto, learning some Spanish while teaching him some English.  At another time, we harvested watermelons, loaded them onto a truck, and drove the truck to the Denair railroad station where we unloaded the melons onto a railroad car on a side track.  One year, we planted a row of artichokes along the farm road from the house to the lake, and dining on their harvest made me enjoy eating artichokes for the rest of my life.  One day, Mother and I were driving home from school with news from town, and I got to run out to the field to tell Father that President Roosevelt had just passed away. 

As I look back, I am very grateful that my parents allowed me to roam so freely; and I feel sorry for today’s children whose outdoor activities are increasingly limited by safety concerns.  In June 2018, I read an article in the Wall Street Journal called “The Overprotected American Child.”  When I was 7 & 8, I spent many hours by myself out in fields and orchards only instructed that I was to report back to the house at meal times. 

 * * *
Gratton School: I began my formal education by entering the first grade in 1942 at Gratton School. Academically, I learned quickly and soon completed my first-grade work listened to the interesting lessons Mrs. Dorian was presenting to the higher grades and learned much of the more advanced material.  Thus, I started with an advantage when I transferred to the second grade class in Denair.  My weaknesses were in penmanship, art, and music.
 * * * 

In the 1920s, Grandpa James leased a lot from the Forest Service at elevation 5200 feet at Pinecrest near Strawberry Lake.  His sons built a cabin with three bedrooms plus a central living room and a corner kitchen with running water supplied by the community from a mountain spring.  In the 1940s, the James families spent many summer days at the cabin, swam in the lake, and hiked the mountain trails.  The favorite hike was two miles around Strawberry Lake.  We occasionally drove up during the winter for sledding and playing in the snow as the Dodge Ridge ski are had not yet been developed.  Uncle Albert acquired a nearby cabin, and our families had good times when both families occupied their cabins simultaneously.  Children of my generation played back and forth between the two lots. Early in the summer of 1942, I caught whooping cough, and Diana followed shortly afterwards with a milder case.  I whooped up most of my food and lost a lot of weight through June and July.Mother took me to our doctor in Modesto for weekly shots, one week in the left arm and the next week in the right arm.  By the end of July, the shots had me on the mend, but both arms were painfully sore from elbow to shoulder.I needed time to recover by actually digesting my meals, regaining weight, and gaining the needed strength to start school in September.  Shortly before my 6th birthday, Father took us to Pinecrest where the three of us spent a couple weeks while he returned to the valley for the peach harvest.  On my August 4 birthday, Mother initiated a “present family” tradition that I continued with my daughters when they were children.  The process began by presenting me only a card for my birthday.Just one lone card was a big comedown for a six-year old until I saw that the card contained a clue describing a hiding place somewhere around the cabin and lot.  Since I was a poor reader before I started school, Mother read the clue to me.I interpreted the hint, not always correctly on the first try, and found a hiding place only to find another clue.This sequence was repeated until the final clue actually took me to my birthday presents.   During the following years, Grandpa took six of his grandchildren to the cabin for a week or more each summer, usually in July before his peach harvest began.  We would go swimming, boating, and hiking and come back to the cabin to play croquet outside or card games around a table.We would swim out to war-surplus pontoons placed in the lake. The river was only a mountain creek that we could easily cross by jumping from rock to rock and shallow enough for wading to cool our feet.From there, we could walk upstream along the creek past large granite slabs and through bands of pine forest.We were told to keep on the watch for rattle snakes and actually saw some sunning themselves on rocks from time to time.  In the early years, we would drink cold water from rapids in the creek.
 * * * 
Years at Modesto High School:  In 1949, I entered Modesto High School as a freshman.  I would get up at 5:30, light the stove to heat the house (every night through the winter, Father would turn off stove while we slept to reduce propane bills), perform my assigned chores of delivering food and water to the farm animals, eat breakfast (always a citrus fruit, eggs with a strip of bacon, and a bowl of hot cereal), and catch a bus at 7:20 for a half hour ride down Tully road to reach Modesto High where classes began at 8:30.  After school, the bus brought me directly home by driving north along Tully Road.  Thus, I was lucky in being nearly the last scholar to catch the bus and being nearly the first one to get off.  This situation changed in my junior year.  The city opened Downey as a second high school, and the bus had to transport freshmen and sophomores to Downey and then juniors and seniors to Modesto.  I caught a bus that was nearly empty at 7:05, rode north along Tully Road nearly to the Stanislaus River, rode east a mile to McHenry, rode south on McHenry, crossed over to leave students at Downey, and finally reached Modesto High.  I was now on the bus nearly two hours a day.  On these rides, I became close friends with my near neighbor Gary Martin who would talk me through each TV program that he had watched the night before.  He probably felt sorry for me as my parents did not have a TV until 1960.  They finally bought one when they could listen to the Presidential debates between Kennedy and Nixon.

I left the small country school atmosphere in a class of 38 at Salida to enter a class of about 600 on the MHS campus where I seldom saw anyof my former classmates.  I was college bound, and most of the Salida class majored in trades, industries, commerce, or agriculture.  Required classes were designated x (for students wanting to go on to college), y (for students pursuing occupations that did not require college degrees), and z (for students academically challenged).  My circle of friends were drawn from about 50 to 75 out of the 600.  I took required classes each year in English and Social Studies as well as classes I needed for college in science (chemistry and physics), math from algebra to calculus, Spanish, typing, and mechanical drawing (for use in engineering design).  Every student was also required to spend one hour each day in a physical education class that devoted 6-week periods to baseball, football, swimming, track & field, or tumbling.  As a consequence of having to catch my bus home after school, I did not participate in the many after-school clubs and activities that were largely populated by “town kids” who had known each other since their time in elementary and junior high schools in Modesto.  Over four years, I had only three or four classes with my former classmates from Salida.  Between classes and during lunch periods, my group of friends played chess, discussed games played by our favorite sports teams, and sometimes talked about homework.  In my senior year, I was one of 20 students enrolled in an independent study class that met two hours a day to take English Masterpieces, Psychology, and Calculus. I ended MHS getting almost straight A’s except for my B’s in Physical Education and earned an award as the top male student in the class of 1953.  I received a wrist watch that I wore daily for over 30 years and trophy cups for the top grades and also as the top student in math and science. These were presented to me before a student assembly on the last day of classes.  My parents picked me up after the last day of school and were astounded by the trophies that I brought home.

[The above is excerpted from a longer family history document written by Douglas,  RJK]

May snowing mountains welcome you

May crystal creeks sound around you

May the ocean breeze blows behind you

May the golden ray shines upon you

Until we meet again

May God in the palm of his hand hold you


Recent stories

Our family history, comfort from Douglas's Great Grandmother to her son upon the death of his wife

Shared by Roxanne James Kelsey on April 15, 2020
One of Douglas's favorite hobbies throughout his life was collecting family stories and genealogy.  Below is an excerpt from a letter that was passed from Douglas's grandfather, to Douglas's father, to Douglas.  The letter is from 1911, 107 years ago, and was written by Douglas’s great grandmother in Michigan to her son, Warner James in California upon the death of his wife, leaving him with 7 children under the age of 10.  May her words from so long ago also provide us comfort in our time of morning.  

                                                  *   *   *

                                                                     Saturday November 18 [1911]

Dear Son Warner,

My precious lonely boy, Oh, how I wish I could speak to you words of comfort though they might not prove of much consolation.   . . .

Surely, these are dark days, but I hope you feel that you can rest upon the promises of God . . .  and I am wondering how those darling children can be consoled.

Dear Little Dorothy Belle, the pride and joy of her mother’s heart.  Does she keep well? Jared will be your comfort and stay and I hope will be able to relieve you of many cares. The younger boys used many times a day to rush up to their mother‘s side with questions that she alone could settle for them.  I hope you have some friends who at this time will show themselves friendly and prove themselves to be friends indeed. 

. . . try to keep up and not lose courage my darling child, for the sake of the dear precious ones entrusted to your care, and God will bring you out from under the clouds purified through suffering and give you wisdom to do what is best for each dear child, not only for their good now, but for their future happiness and success. 

You will be constantly on our hearts and minds, these few days to come and we shall implore for you heaven’s richest blessing and God’s tenderest care. It seems as though I should be with you, that you know I am in heart and mind.  . . . .

Love to you. From, Mother.

[read by Douglas's grandson, Matthew James Kelsey, at Douglas's funeral in 2020]

Douglas collected family history -- A letter concerning the 1832 Cholera Pandemic

Shared by Roxanne James Kelsey on April 15, 2020
In his family history story, Douglas shared the following excerpt from a letter written almost 190 years ago by his ancestor, Nathaniel E. James, who was born in the New York Colony before the Revolutionary War.  The letter is dated July 21, 1832, and postmarked Truxton, New York.  It was received by his son John James in Shelby, Macomb Co., Michigan, 12 days later. In 1832, the mail traveled to Michigan by stagecoach. 

“Dear Children, God in his holy providence is seeing fit to visit us by war and pestilence . . . in our own city and villages death is raging.  Heard today that Monday last above 200 cases of cholera and of about 100 deaths in N.Y. (I do not state the places and particulars respecting this disease because you will see the paper and have the account before you receive this) but I hope that you will be enabled to see and acknowledge the divine hand in these things and realize that there is not safety anywhere else but trust in Him – read the 21st Psalm and let us put our trust in Him and you will see that here, as well as in Europe . . . O may we learn to eye the Divine and may God give us that vision that we need.”

Shared by Naraa Kh on April 13, 2020
My heart aches to hear this news. I still can’t believe he is gone. 
I have lost my grandpa who used to call me his adopted granddaughter, i have lost my friend who had 50 year age gap with me but always was there to listen to my stories and give me the best advice, i have lost my influencer who loved adventures and traveled around the world in his 80s.  He loved to share his experiences with me and sends me the photos of every places he visited. 
James, you were such a caring and loving grandpa, a good listener and a mentor, a nice and very kind human-being. You left me beautiful memories. You will never be forgotten, you will remain in my heart forever. 

I am so sorry for your lose Zhida, my thoughts and prayers are with you.