James McClay Close, MD
May 17, 1930 – December 29, 2020
Jim (aka Jimmy, Jimbo and Buddy) passed away on December 29th. He had heart disease. Jim was born to Gladys and Wallace Close in Houtzdale, Pennsylvania on May 17, 1930. His father was in the coal mining business in central Pennsylvania and in Elkins, West Virginia and later in Cumberland, Maryland. Wherever he went, Jim created lasting friendships which he maintained through frequent correspondence via snail mail. He still exchanged letters with his childhood friends until the day he died. Jim matriculated at the Virginia Military Institute with an A.B. in 1951 and was graduated from the medical school at the University of Maryland in 1955.
After graduation, he married his first wife, Linda Piland, and joined the US Army, completing both his internship and residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Lettermen General Hospital in San Francisco. During his 10 years in the army he had two tours of duty in Germany and three in San Francisco. Later in life, he joined the US Army Reserve, earning the rank of Colonel. While living in Europe, he and Linda traveled extensively, developing his lifelong passion for travel. He also did post-doctoral studies at the University of Vienna.
In 1965, Jim established his OB/GYN practice in Fairfax, Virginia. He was joined by his friend Dr. Russell May a year later. He was beloved by all of his patients, who were very sad when he retired in 2000. Over those 35 years, he delivered approximately 6,500 babies. His younger partner, Dr. Glenna Andersen, described Jim as the quintessential obstetrician. He was a clinical professor at the George Washington University School of Medicine and mentored hundreds of young doctors, earning their admiration and respect.
Indeed, Jim was a Renaissance man. He described himself as a boulevardier, raconteur and gourmand. One of his favorite pastimes was walking the Mall in Washington, DC and visiting the myriad museums there. He shared that interest with all of his children and grandchildren, who enjoyed many educational adventures with him. He was an architecture aficionado and pointed out all kinds of design features while driving along. Art history and antiques were other keen interests and he could tell you all about the specific designs in various periods. Also a history buff, he memorized the names of all the kings and queens of England and their respective reigns, remembering those factoids into his 90s. For the fun of it, he memorized the populations of all the major American cities in 1940 and often peppered his conversations with that information. In his retirement, he became an avid reader and WWII scholar who never missed the latest book or movie. The only thing he could cook was Virginia peanuts which he covered with butter and salt, hoping he wouldn’t have to share them with too many others!
After retiring, Jim spent the winters in Naples, FL where he volunteered in a soup kitchen for migrant workers. He was a member of the Georgetown Presbyterian Church and often helped serve Saturday Night Suppers to DC’s homeless. A member of the St. Andrews Society, he loved donning his kilt and Prince Charlie jacket and marching in the Scottish Christmas Walk in Old Town. He had great love and pride in his 1977 Porsche Targa, his VMI class ring and the Rolex watch he bought in Germany for $168 when his son Stuart was born and is passing it on to him.
In 1984, his first wife Linda died. In 1991, he married his wife Alice (Harding) and helped raise her three children. Together, they enjoyed gardening, entertaining, restaurant hopping and traveling. Their cottage, Close Quarters, on the Northern Neck was one of their favorite escapes. They enjoyed entertaining family and friends there. Jim taught countless friends and children how to water ski there. And during the winter, they always had a full house at their condo in Naples, Fl.
Jim was a member of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, Fairfax County Medical Society, American Medical Society of Vienna, Clan Stewart Society of America and Marines Memorial Club of San Francisco.
Jim is survived by his wife, Alice, son Stuart of Denver, son Randy (Nikki) of Alexandria, son Peter of Venice, CA and daughter, Susan (Chris) of Arlington, son-in-law Bill of Alexandria as well as 8 grandchildren. His daughter Leslie Powell died very prematurely in 2010. All who knew and loved Jim will miss him dearly. His warmth, friendship and generosity were priceless gifts to everyone who called him a friend.
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