Obituary: James R. Maggart, 81, Of Hamden

Hamden, Connecticut – (from North Haven Funeral Home): International teacher and retired school president James R. Maggart, 81, of Hamden, died peacefully on November 19, surrounded by his loving family.

From his early years on a small farm near Burley, Idaho, education set Jim’s path in the world. A natural-born leader and fun-loving sports scientist at Burley High School (57), Jim has written in football, basketball, baseball, and tennis, and is a recipient of the National Merit Scholarship and Basketball Scholarship to Northwestern University. He began his undergraduate studies in electrical engineering, and later completed his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1965. Jim’s love of learning and teaching began as a math teacher and basketball coach at Skyline High School in Oakland, California. He earned an MAT from Brown University and an MBA from Stanford University. From there he continued educational administration in the United States and abroad.

He has had a significant and lasting influence on the three institutions for which he served as president: Robert College in Istanbul, Turkey; St. John’s School in Houston, Texas; and Hamden Hall Country Day School in Hamden, Country. In each, Jim left a legacy of academic excellence, technological innovation, financial stability, and strong programs in the arts and athletics. He believed in encouraging and supporting women as leaders and athletes.

At Robert College in Istanbul, besides appointing women to key scholastic positions, he started his first girls’ basketball team and led them to a Turkish national championship. He was an accomplished teacher and coach, and is still remembered above all for his patience, encouragement and calm guidance.

Jim passed on his rich experiences and perspectives to generations of teachers he mentored, including his three children, and to schools he advised around the world. As Chairman of the Board of Directors of Robert College and The Country School, a partner in Educators’ Collaborative, and a pioneer in international school accreditation for the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Jim has worked and volunteered to improve the lives of countless students and teachers. He was always trusted for his kind honesty, sensible advice, sense of humor, and a warm and steady presence. He was proud of his students’ accomplishments and particularly joyful in their athletic success, as well as the many relationships he maintained with his dedicated colleagues over the years.

As much as I love his profession, nothing was more important to Jim than family. While working a summer job in California during college, he met his future wife Kay, who had been the love of his life for 60 years. They shared a common path of teaching, a passion for international adventure, and an enduring dedication to their children and grandchildren. In his later years, Jim became a lumberman, creating modular bowls and heirloom furniture that would fill his family’s homes and summer home in New Hampshire. These things provide a constant reminder of his talent, quiet modesty, and generous affection.

In addition to his wife, Kay, he is survived by his three sons: Stephanie Johnson (Philip) of Guilford, Connecticut; Michael Maggart of Austin, Texas; and Eileen Flanagan (Michael) of Winchester, Massachusetts; as well as his sister Carol Wilson (Arthur) of Portland, Oregon; and his five grandchildren: Hannah Martin (Niall), Sarah and Willie Johnson, William and Brendan Flanagan. A special family memorial service will be held at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, the family welcomes contributions to Jim’s memory at the James R. Maggart Scholarship Fund at Hamden Hall, Smilo Cancer Hospital at Yale New Haven Health, or a charity or school of your choice.

James R Maggart Scholarship Fund, Hamden Hall Country Day School, 1108 Whitney Ave., Hamden, CT 06517… or Yale New Haven Hospital, Office of Development, PO Box 1849, New Haven, CT 06508-9979, Phone: 203-688-9644 Email:

For more information and to leave condolences online, visit the North Haven Funeral Home here.

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