James Staton Chase

Photo of James Staton Chase
Dr. James Staton Chase, age 85, of Fayetteville, passed away Monday July 31, 2017 in Fayetteville. He was born July 2, 1932 in Richmond, Virginia, the son of Francis Seabury and Sue Wilbourne Elder Chase Jr. He was preceded in death by his parents. Dr. Chase was a central figure in the life of the Department of History at the University of Arkansas from his arrival as an associate professor in 1968 until his retirement in 1999. As department chair between 1970 and 1976, Dr. Chase oversaw the hiring of key faculty members like Willard Gatewood, Randall Woods, Henry Tsai, William Tucker, and Nudie Williams, guaranteeing the viability of the department's embryonic doctoral program. It has thrived in the decades since. He also brought Alpha Chapter of Phi Alpha Theta back to life and served as faculty advisor, restoring it to a status befitting the founding chapter of the large and prestigious history honor society. He established the annual Phi Alpha Theta initiation and awards banquet. The 47th of these ceremonies was held last May. Dr. Chase also founded the Ozark Historical Review, now in its forty-sixth year of publishing the best in undergraduate and graduate research and writing. And he edited History Newsletter for many years, keeping the department and its alumni in close contact. Colleagues and students can attest to countless acts of understated thoughtfulness and graciousness on his part, such as inviting new faculty members over to his home for a well-appointed brunch; seeing that younger colleagues were introduced to peers outside the Department; and besieging a store until it had procured just the right spoon to complete a wedding present for two graduate students. Most of all, though, they recall his fierce devotion to students' education and careers. Dr. Chase was honored in 1995 with Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Advisor Award, and the Associated Student Government named him "Teacher of the Year" in 1994. A scholar of nineteenth century political history trained at William & Mary (BA, 1953) and the University of Chicago (MA 1957, PhD 1962), Dr. Chase was the author of the still standard Emergence of the Presidential Nominating Convention, 1789-1832 (University of Illinois Press, 1973). Before coming to the University of Arkansas, Dr. Chase served as assistant professor of history at the University of Texas at Austin from 1962 to 1968. He was an active member of the Democratic party and attended its 1976 national convention as a delegate. He was a veteran of the United States Army and served in Korea. He is survived by his sister, Suzanne Winters of Irvington, Virginia and a brother, Frank S. Chase of Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. Funeral Service will be held Monday, August 14 at 12:30 p.m. at Grace Episcopal Church, Kilmarnock, Va. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Foundation for Historic Christ Church, P.O. Box 24, Irvington, Virginia 22480. To sign the online guest book visit

Published August 4, 2017

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