Dr. James Ray Chatham (1931-2019)
On August 12, 2019, Dr. James Ray Chatham, Honorary President of Sigma Delta Pi, passed away at the age of 87. Dr. Chatham was an accomplished academic leader who served as Head of his Department of Foreign Languages at Mississippi State University from 1964-1983, and Executive Director of the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP) from 1984-1993. A long-time advocate of the National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society, Dr. Chatham worked with Sigma Delta Pi’s National President, Dr. Richard E. Chandler, in October 1984 to secure the regular scheduling of Sigma Delta Pi’s triennial convention at the AATSP annual meeting. It was at Sigma Delta Pi’s triennial convention in August 1989 during the AATSP’s annual conference in San Antonio, TX, when President Chandler inducted Chatham into the Order of Don Quijote, one of the National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society’s highest recognitions. Upon his initiation, Chatham simply responded with a quote from Baltasar Gracián: “Lo bueno, si breve, dos veces bueno.” On August 2, 1998 during Sigma Delta Pi’s 21st triennial convention at the AATSP’s 80th annual meeting in Madrid, Spain, SDP’s National President John H. LaPrade appointed James Ray Chatham as Honorary President along with Donald W. Bleznick of the University of Cincinnati and James Agustín Castañeda of Rice University. Dr. Chatham served in this honorary role until his death this past August 12. Sigma Delta Pi remembers Dr. Chatham with gratitude for his loyal advocacy and service, and we extend condolences to his family.