April 9, 1930 - March 28, 2019
James S. Nyman, 88, passed away on March 28, 2019. He was born in Nakusp, BC, Canada on April 9, 1930.
The trajectory of his life was indelibly altered when in April 1941, at age 11, he, his brothers, and some friends decided it would be “fun” to set off some purloined dynamite caps. The explosion blinded his violet-colored eyes, but he would forever assert that this was the day that his real life began.
In August 1941 Jimmy, as he was known then, was sent off to Vancouver to the residential School for the Deaf and Blind. It was there that his teacher, Arnold Archibald, who was also blind, opened up Jim's mind to learning and knowledge. For anyone who knew him in adulthood, it would likely be a shock to know that prior to the explosion that Jim had not bothered to learn to read during those 11 years. He'd learned the alphabet, but didn't know what written words were all about. He quickly mastered Braille and reading, and thus began the voracious reading that continued for the rest of his life. What occurred from that point forward was that Jim's brilliant mind came to life.
He attended the University of British Columbia beginning in 1952, and after graduating he moved to Berkeley, California, and obtained his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California. During that time, he met Nobuko Uematsu, who was from Tokyo, Japan. They married in Palo Alto, California, on June 5, 1965. Jim and Nobuko were married for 52 years before she passed away in July 2017.
Jim would go on to teach at the University of Chicago, and then Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, until 1974 when Nebraska Gov. J.J. Exon hired him to become the director of Nebraska Division of Rehabilitation Services for the Visually Impaired. After years of being an advocate and lobbyist on state and national levels for the blind, he had decided that his calling was to work more directly impacting the lives of other blind people. He was director of the agency for 24 years before retiring in March 1998.
Jim was an avid runner from the mid-1970s up until he died at 88 years old. Running in many Lincoln races until his late 60s, as well as his long-standing “Saturday Morning Running Club” with his compatriots who would run a few miles followed by a few beers each Saturday morning. Even in his later years, up until the very end, he ran 2 miles a day. He often shocked people who would encounter a solitary runner with a white cane moving back and forth across the bike paths in south Lincoln.
Jim is survived by daughter and son-in-law, Emi and Brian Giles (Lincoln). Grandchildren, Willow Nyman-Jones (Lincoln), Porter Giles (Lincoln), and step-granddaughter, Briana (Giles) VanNostrand (Greeley, Colorado). Sister, Myrtle (Nyman) Lockhart (Victoria, B.C. Canada), and many nieces and nephews.
No services. Memorials to Friends of the Nebraska Commission for the Blind & Visually Impaired.