Jim Lightbody, a professor of political science at the University of Alberta for 47 years, passed away on October 17 at the age of 73 years, following a brief illness. As a well-respected political scientist, teacher and public intellectual, Jim’s contributions to this province and to Canada were extraordinary.
Born in Winnipeg, Jim was educated there and in Calgary but ultimately left to complete his Master’s at Carleton and his PhD at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. He joined the Department of Political Science at the University of Alberta in 1971, and served as chair of the department from 2012 – 2015.
In addition to teaching, Jim was known for his studies of the politics and governing of Canadian city-regions, in particular the conduct of civic elections. He assisted select individuals in their electoral ambitions at all levels of governing and was a media go-to person for expert analysis and political commentary.
As stated in his official obituary, Jim’s innate ability to mentor the leaders of tomorrow will be deeply missed.
Earlier in his career, Jim served as a member of the board of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council for six years and on its executive committee for five. In 2016, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society (RCGS) – an honour in which he took great pride. The mandate of the RCGS is “to make Canada better known to Canadians and the world,” and this was certainly true of Jim.
Upon learning of his death, John Geiger (’81 BA), an award-winning journalist and current President of The Royal Canadian Geographical Society posted, “Jim was a great political science scholar, but more than that, he was a friend and a mentor. It is hard to believe such a vital force has left us.”
“It’s a big loss,” says political scientist and colleague Greg Anderson. “He gave 47 years to this university and was a deep well of wisdom when it came to how the place worked. He’d seen and done a lot professionally by the time I got here, and I routinely sought his advice. He was a great friend, colleague, and mentor. I’ll miss him.”
Jim is survived by Lisa Kline, his partner of 26 years, two daughters, five grandchildren, his brother and his beloved dogs, Scooter and Tito.
An informal gathering will be held Saturday, November 10, from 1 p.m. - 4 p.m. at the South Side Memorial Chapel for those who wish to remember him.
Read his official obituary here.