Born on May 26, 1925, in Denver, Colo., to Frank and Gertrude Walters, his father and mother were in an automobile accident one month before his birth, and his father was fatally injured. His mother took him and his four siblings back to her hometown of Topeka, Kan., where Jim was reared primarily by his mother's sister Anna. He graduated from Topeka High School in 1943 and earned his Bachelor's degree at Washburn University in Topeka in 1946. He then went to the University of Iowa Child Welfare Research Station, where he earned his Master's degree in Child Welfare in 1948. While studying for his degree, Jim married Frances Michael, of Topeka. His first employment was at Rutgers University in New Jersey, after which he was employed by Oklahoma State University (then Oklahoma A&M). He began work on his Doctor of Philosophy degree while there, but went to Florida State University to complete the work and earn the degree in 1954. Immediately after earning his Ph.D., Jim was employed as a full professor and Department Head at the University of Alabama. Since that time, he has taught at Oklahoma State University, Florida State University, and the University of Georgia, where he retired in 1989.
Dr. Walters joined NCFR in 1957, and was appointed editor of the journal Family Relations: Journal of Applied Family and Child Studies in 1976. He also served as President of NCFR from 1982 to 1983. Among his awards, he was most proud of the coveted University of Georgia Josiah Meigs Award for Excellence in Teaching, and the NCFR Ernest Osborne Award for Outstanding Teaching. He was a builder of people, known for his sincerity and his humor. He was kind and generous with his time, still editing papers for colleagues and students years after he retired.
Dr. Walters' obituary was published in the Athens Banner-Herald.