James William Parins
Published: November 20, 2013
James William Parins, retired Professor of English and Associate Director of the Sequoyah National Research Center at UALR, died Sunday after a long illness. He would have been 74 on November 19. Born in Green Bay, Wisconsin, in 1939, he was the oldest of the nine children of Joseph and Marion Van Beek Parins. He attended parochial and public school in Green Bay and after high school joined the Marine Corps Reserve. He attended the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay, and graduated from St. Norbert College. After a short business career, he returned to school, earning a PhD from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in 1972.
In 1973, he came to Little Rock to teach in the English Department and continued in that job for 40 years. He had been an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin, Stephens Point, and later spent a year as Visiting Professor of Humanities at Leicester Polytechnic in England.
The quality of his professional achievements is reflected in the published work he leaves behind. Early in his career, he produced several concordances to the works of Joseph Conrad and Ezra Pound, a biography of William Barnes, and coauthored Structure and Meaning: An Introduction to Literature. With research partner Daniel F. Littlefield, Jr., he began working with Native American writings, and with Littlefield published the ground-breaking Biobibliography of Native American Writers, 1772-1924, revealing hundreds of Native American writers and journalists whose work was previously unknown. Numerous publications involving Indian authors followed, including some 40 editions of Native writers and seven chapbooks by contemporary Indian poets. He wrote biographies of two Cherokees, John Rollin Ridge and Elias Boudinot. His most recent collaboration with Littlefield was a two-volume Encyclopedia of Indian Removal, and his last book, which came out three weeks ago, is Literacy and Intellectual Life in the Cherokee Nation, 1820-1906.
He published a number of articles in professional journals and regularly presented papers, most recently at Native American Studies conferences in France. At the Sequoyah National Research Center, Parins worked with student interns on their research projects in the American Native Press Archives, and as a member of the English Department, mentored several Cooper Honors students. He was a member of the Grand Maumelle Sailing Club, the Book Club, several professional organizations and for a time secretary of the Australiasian Order of Old Bastards, Arkansas branch.
Preceding him in death were his parents, Joseph and Marion Parins, a granddaughter, Ashley, and a sister, Joan. He is survived by his wife, Marylyn, daughter, Claire (Matt Gronwold), son, Craig (Kristina), stepson, James Brady (Ruxandra), six grandchildren, Stephanie, Faithe, and Cassidy Parins, Roland Brady, and Blake and Joshua Yenner. Also surviving him are seven siblings, Tom (Yadira) and Mike (Judy) Parins, Mary (Barb) Parins, Pam (Bob) Fisher, Jean (Earl McNamara) Parins, Ann (Scott) Anderson, Joey (Curtis) Parins, brothers-in-law, Andy (Jenny) and James (Dana Kay) Jackson, and twenty Parins and Jackson nieces and nephews.
A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Friday, November 22, at Ruebel Funeral Home, preceded by a private family burial at Mount Holly. The family will receive at 5500 North Grandview. Memorial may be made to the Sequoyah National Research Center at UALR (http://ualr.edu/sequoyah). Arrangements by Ruebel Funeral Home, www.ruebelfuneralhome.com.