James Webster
Plant a Tree
Plant a Tree


6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Friday, July 12, 2019
Joseph W. Sorce Funeral Home Inc
728 West Nyack Road
West Nyack, New York, United States

Funeral Mass

11:00 am
Saturday, July 13, 2019
Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Church
120 Kings Highway
Tappan, New York, United States
Funeral Mass

Obituary of James D. Webster

James Dale Webster, aged 64, of Orangeburg, NY died at home on July 6, 2019, after a twelve-month fight against Glioblastoma.

James (Jim) was born in Cartersville, Georgia, to James and Emma Webster.  Jim’s rural upbringing in Georgia and then Pennsylvania was spent fishing, making go-carts, rockets, and fireworks, snapping peas at his grandfather’s restaurant and exploring mine sites with his other grandfather, who worked for Georgia Marble.  When he was a little older, he lived in Florida and witnessed actual rocket launches at Cape Canaveral as his father contributed to the design of electrical components in the NASA program with RCA and IBM.  IBM eventually took his family to North Carolina, where he graduated from Cary High School.  From there, he worked his way through college, earning his BS in Geology at North Carolina State University.  He went on to earn an MS in Geology at Colorado School of Mines and his PhD at Arizona State University in Geochemistry.  He completed postdoctoral work at the USGS in Virginia and the University of Edinburgh in Scotland before beginning his 29-year career as an Assistant Curator at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.   An in-depth description of his career has been prepared by his friend and colleague, Ed Mathez, and can be found on the Museum’s site: https://www.amnh.org/research/staff-directory/james-webster

Jim was a dedicated scientist who never lost his enthusiasm for his pursuit of how ore deposits are formed.  Any visitors to his home would be taken out to a local outcrop for a mini-geology lesson. He enjoyed his family life as well, participating in his sons’ activities including many years of involvement in the Boy Scouts, ranging from acting as Cubmaster to spearheading trips to the Grand Canyon.  Jim loved the outdoors. He had a special reverence for the Grand Canyon and inspired a similar appreciation in any who hiked the Canyon with him.  He enjoyed riding motorcycles, feeding the woodstove, renovating the house to keep his wife happy, working out at the gym, and playing with his young grandchildren. Jim was also a lector for Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, an awe-inspiring charge for 14 years.

Jim spent his life working to make the world a better place. Professionally, he wanted to help find a better method to forecast volcanic eruptions to save potential lives. He continued to give back to the community that inspired him. He supported the community through summer MAT program. At home, he was dedicated to his wife and children, always finding the time and patience to provide the best life for his family. He was the inspiring force in his son’s decision to follow in his footsteps as a scientist, after many years of talking about the wonders of the natural world.  A defining characteristic of Jim was how he always tried to understand others in order to offer help in any way he could. His legacy is present in the lives he shaped and the good that continues to emanate from those who were lucky enough to connect with him: as a scientist, friend, or family member.

Jim is survived by his loving wife of 44 years Marie, his two sons Brian Webster [Uschi Symmons] of Cologne, Germany and Paul Webster [Lauren Crowley] of Riverwoods, Il, and his three grandchildren Hope Symmons-Webster, Thomas Webster, and Sylvianne Crowley.  He is also survived by his mother Emma Webster of Cary, NC, his sister Kathy Webster of Raleigh, NC, and his brother Michael Webster [Kim] of Raleigh, NC.  He is predeceased by his father James Webster.

Funeral Arrangements

A viewing will be held on Friday, July 12, 2019, from 6 pm to 8 pm at Sorce Funeral Home located at 728 W. Nyack Rd, West Nyack, NY.  A funeral mass will take place on Saturday, July 13, 2019, at 11 am at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Church located at 120 Kings Hwy, Tappan, NY

Memorial Contributions

Glioblastoma is an aggressive form of brain cancer typically with no known cause or cure.  Research is ongoing in hopes to extend the quality of life and ultimately find a curative treatment for this disease.  To this end, Jim has donated brain tissue in hopes of helping others that are afflicted.  To further assist in this goal, and as an expression of sympathy, memorial donations can be made to the National Brain Tumor Society at https://braintumor.org/take-action/ways-to-give/.

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