James Gustafson (July 01, 1946 - February 09, 2023)

In loving memory of
James Gustafson
  • July 01, 1946
  • -
  • February 09, 2023

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Jim grew up in Chicago before leaving for sunshine and golf in Central Florida.  In 1966, Jim heard John Logan’s “Three Moves” recited in a college class, and that moment changed his view of poetry, the world, and himself.  After college, he returned to Chicago, met Connie, and earned an M. Div. from Garrett Theological Seminary at Northwestern University.  With Connie by his side, Jim spent time in churches, board rooms, radio stations, and golf pro shops before returning to the classroom where he most belonged.  He earned an MFA from the University of Tampa and began teaching Creative Writing at Florida Gulf Coast University and World Religions at Florida Southwestern.  And he wrote–   When we’ve come farther than we have to go (Big Table 2022), Friar Fred’s Diary (Big Table 2018), Unassisted Living (Big Table 2017), Driving Home (Aldrich Press 2013), and Take Fun Seriously (Limitless Press 2006).  His work has appeared in RattleThe Red Wheelbarrow Review, The Main Street Rag, Another Chicago, and Tishman Review.  In honor of Jim, a fund has been established

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  1. Lauren Anderson says:
    04 Aug 2023
    Professor Gustafson created such a safe space for me to explore my interest in creative writing. I am so devastated by this loss. He inspired me at a time when I really needed it most. May he rest in peace.

  2. Nicholas Ranson says:
    17 Jun 2023
    Jim: I will light a candle for you on July 1st, to celebrate your birth, rather than your death. I am sorry that I had so short a time to be your friend and fellow wordsmith, But your teaching and humility, your searching soul and cheerful punning stays around. You have taught many of us that no occasion is too small to find a poem if you know how to look for it.

    The Alliance poets miss you too.

  3. Kelly Moriarty says:
    01 Mar 2023
    I was a student of Jim’s at FGCU. He was such a special teacher. He made us laugh, he made us think, he gave us complete freedom of expression. It’s scary to bare your soul on a page, but Jim made you feel safe to do it. He’d never laugh at you, look down on you, or judge your character for what you wrote. He was such a kind and encouraging person. I was having a hard time when I joined his class, I didn’t know how to be happy. But Jim took a shine to my writing, and for the first time I felt that my hobby had value. He asked me to never stop writing, and since then I haven’t stopped. I’ve kept writing, kept dreaming, and kept inching towards those dreams. Every time I have even a small success, I think of Jim and hope he would be proud of me. His class meant so much to me, as I’m sure it did to many others. He was the kind of person who could easily touch your heart. He will never be forgotten.

  4. Nathan Maudlin says:
    13 Feb 2023
    I was an early adolescent when Jim married my first cousin, Connie Carr. I remember the rehearsal dinner and wedding very well. Jim was a nice man. Actually, I should say cool! He tolerated me, took me golfing in Logansport, and filled the pulpit one Sunday at Bethlehem Presbyterian Church. Connie’s dad even came to that service! He was excellent. I am sorry I have lost touch with Connie and Jim, but am delighted to read that he found his spot teaching. I am not surprised and I can just imagine how fortunate his students were.

    Nathan Maudlin

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