Publication: November 1, 2016
James Harold “Jim” Hamby was a football coach at Southeast Missouri State University and a brilliant, very popular professor of philosophy at Southeast from 1968 until his death in 1986 at the age of fifty-five. He studied birds, taught himself the art of watercolors, and gave more than 300 of his beautiful and detailed creations to other faculty and friends.
Hamby would paint the picture first, then write an essay to accompany it. The relationship between his artwork and writing shifted as the occasion or his inclination suggested. Some of his entries are about the bird he painted and its sighting; other entries are philosophical musings about life, friends and family, nature, or the arts. Gifts of Oneself: Art and Writings by James H. Hamby represents a lasting word and image celebration of a talented man, well loved by his family, friends, and community.
“Whatever experiences that Jim Hamby had in his life that led to his insistence upon getting the best out of everyone—footballers or students—were at the core of who he was to himself, as well. Jim worked hard at making his drawings and his watercolor skills better and better. Anyone who had the privilege of being his student or his player knew that Jim would not settle for anything less than your best efforts. The drawings and thoughts that Jim put forth are true pleasures that will keep you thinking of them for days afterward. Jim would have liked that.”
—Ben Britt, former student of Jim Hamby
“Do you remember how you felt as a kid when, for some reason or other, classy and intelligent adults would allow you to hang out with them? If you do, you will want to spend some time considering these little meditations that Jim Hamby has written. You’ll be uplifted by the art and the wisdom of this gifted teacher.”
—Dale Haskell, former student and colleague of Jim Hamby
“Jim Hamby was a brilliant, complex human being. In art and commentary, Jim faithfully recorded what he saw, to the delight of scholars, art lovers, ornithologists, and people everywhere. This book, Gifts of Oneself: Art and Writings, gathers both Hamby’s intricate bird drawings and his clever, often erudite observations about the way of all existence. The book is a testament to the importance of Jim’s work; he is an outstanding artist and writer.”
—Nolan Porterfield, author of Jimmie Rodgers: The Life and Times of America’s Blue
Yodeller and A Way of Knowing, scholar, bird watcher, and friend of Jim Hamby
“I knew Jim Hamby, drank a beer or two with him from time to time and was fortunate enough to catch four of his lovely birds. But more importantly to me, I had the privilege of discussing with Jim the philosophy that accompanied each of my birds. And I do smile at the memories.”
—J. Tim Blattner, financial planner, civic leader, and friend of Jim Hamby