James A. Bellamy, emeritus professor of Arabic literature, passed away on July 21, 2015 at the age of eighty-nine.
A native of Kentucky, Professor Bellamy received his A.B. degree from Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, in 1946 and his Ph.D. degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1956. From 1955-59, he held positions at the University of Pennsylvania and Wayne State University. He joined the University of Michigan as an instructor in the Department of Near Eastern Studies in 1959; he was promoted to assistant professor in 1960, associate professor in 1964, and professor of Arabic literature in 1968, a rank he held until his retirement in 1995.
Professor Bellamy devoted his scholarly life to the study of early Arabic language, literature, and culture. His essays include fundamental contributions to Arabic epigraphy, poetry, and legal and religious texts of early Islam, but next to his studies of the earliest forms of the Arabic script and the Arabic elements in medieval French epics he also published contemporary prose and poetry. The University of Michigan series of textbooks and readers for students of Arabic, to which he contributed, remained a classic for decades.
Professor Bellamy’s dedication to his students was legendary: His policy has been that if any students wanted to read certain texts, he would create a course for them; thus, it was not infrequent for him to teach four, five, or six courses per term. While the total number of students taught in this way was never high, the amount of time Professor Bellamy had for students held no upper limit. He continued his work for many years after his retirement; his regular presence in the department until the very last years is fondly remembered by his colleagues.
Through his scholarly career and his dedication to his profession, Professor Bellamy has enriched the University and the international community of classical Arabic scholars in which he has been a distinguished member for so many years.