Dr. James Willyn (Jim) Dees passed away on Sunday, May 10th at his residence. He was 83.
Visitation will be on Thursday, May 14th, from 4:00 to 6:00 at Ward Wilson Funeral Home in Dothan, Alabama. He will be interred at Westview Abbey in Atlanta, Georgia.
Jim, as he was known to his family and friends, was an active member of First United Methodist Church, the Progressors Sunday School class, and past member and elder of the First Presbyterian Church of Dothan. He loved music and shared his talent at church and with the community.
James Dees was born in Atlanta, Georgia on July 15, 1936 to James O’Reagan and Louise Jones Dees. He grew up in Atlanta, graduating from North Fulton High School and Emory University. He lettered in track and field and was a member of the Sigma Nu fraternity. Jim earned his PhD in Psychology from the University of Tennessee in 1962 and embarked upon a career as a human-factors engineer.
Dr. Dees was a pioneer in the field of ergonomics, and was one of the first ergonomists of the United States space program, supporting projects for both the Gemini and Apollo programs. He designed the console for the Gemini space capsule and developed the simulator that trained pilots to dock in space as part of the Apollo program.
While working on the space program in St. Louis, Missouri in 1962, he met Joyce Ann Wood at a Young Republicans meeting. Two young Georgians living far from home. They married the following May at her home church in Jefferson, Georgia.
Jim continued his career with positions with George Washington University in Akron Ohio and then with the Human Resources Research Organization at Fort Benning, Georgia, supporting the Department of Defense. In 1971, he and his family moved to Dothan, Alabama where he developed flight simulators for the emerging branch of Army Aviation in Fort Rucker. In 1991, he and Joyce moved to Huntsville, Alabama, where he served as the project manager for the first unmanned aerial vehicles. Dr. Dees retired in 1996 and returned home to enjoy time with his friends in Dothan, Alabama.
In retirement, Jim wrote and published several books and plays and numerous pieces of music. He had a lifetime love of music, playing professionally when he was in graduate school, playing numerous roles with SEACT of Dothan (to include Emile de Becque in South Pacific), performing with church choirs and a barbershop quartet!
Dr. Dees is survived by his wife Joyce Wood Dees, his sisters Alys Teri Dees Matthews, Caroline Louise Dees; his children Kathryn Joyce Dees Fain (John), Beverly JoAnne Dees Hooker (Richard), and Amy Elizabeth Dees Llende (Frank). He and Joyce have eight grandchildren and one great-granddaughter due in September.
Jim will be laid to rest at Westview Abbey in Atlanta Georgia on Friday, 15 May. Due to the current virus situation, the memorial service is postponed until June.
Friends of the family may send their condolences to Joyce and the family at her residence.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to First United Methodist Church Dothan for Respite Ministry or Church Party for Special Needs Children.
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