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James Howard Case, former Johns Hopkins mathematician, dies

James Howard Case owned and operated the Chesapeake Hard Cider Company.
James Howard Case owned and operated the Chesapeake Hard Cider Company. (Handout / HANDOUT)

James Howard “Jim” Case, a former Johns Hopkins University mathematician who was signed to play for the Los Angeles Dodgers while in college, died Sept. 1 of a medical incident while riding in an automobile traveling on Northern Parkway. The Roland Park resident was 80.

Family members said that a cause of death has not been determined.

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Born in Rochester, New York, he was the son of Charles Zopher Case, a veteran of the Spanish-American and First World Wars and an Eastman Kodak executive, and his wife Mary Proctor Case, a family matriarch and an accomplished equestrienne.

He grew up on a dairy farm in Avon, New York and was a 1958 graduate of Groton School in Groton, Massachusetts. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics at the University of Rochester. He was a three sport varsity athlete as an undergraduate and played football, swimming and baseball.

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His University of Rochester swim coach, Roman “Speed” Speegle, introduced him to a member of the women’s swim team, Patricia deYoung. They married in 1962.

“He was a man of diverse interests who was admired for his sense of humor,” she said.

He was inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2013.

“My husband’s overriding passion was to become a professional baseball pitcher and he enthusiastically signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers organization,” his wife said. “He was released by the team in the spring of 1962.”

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A right-handed pitcher, standing 6-foot-7-inches, he was assigned to play for the Panama City Fliers in the Dodgers organization. He went to spring training at Vero Beach, Florida. He suffered a shoulder injury which ended his career.

She said that for decades afterward, he told of signing a $5 contract with a bubble gum company for rights to use his picture on a baseball card provided he gained a spot in the majors.

After ending his baseball career, he took a tramp steamer to Cannes, France, bought a bicycle and headed north to Paris.

“He stopped to enjoy starred Michelin restaurants. His favorite vacation forever after was a trip through the French countryside seeking good food and wines,” she said.

He continued to visit France and was a devoted patron of the restaurant, La Pyramide in Vienne.

“He spoke French well enough to order a good meal and a nice bottle of wine,” his wife said.

After completing a master’s and doctoral degree at the University of Michigan, he did post-doctoral research at the Mathematics Research Center at the University of Wisconsin and at Princeton University.

He moved to Baltimore in 1970 to join the Operations Research and Industrial Engineering Department (now Department of Applied Mathematics and Statistics) at Johns Hopkins University’s Homewood campus. He was an assistant professor and left the school in 1976.

He became a lecturer at Towson University and worked for the Federal Trade Commission and the American Petroleum Institute.

From 1983 to 1991, he owned and operated the Chesapeake Hard Cider Company in Edgewood and later moved it to Parkville.

“He was ahead of his time with selling hard cider,” his wife said.

He was also a scientific writer and consultant.

Dr. Case was the author of three books, book chapters and peer-reviewed papers. He frequently wrote articles and book reviews for the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics News. His last writing for them appears in the September issue.

Dr. Case was a fan of the Orioles, Colts and Ravens. An avid downhill skier, he shared his passion for the sport with his children, their spouses and his grandchildren on an annual vacation he organized.

He was a member of the the International Society of Biophysical Economics.

“He was among the relatively few persons on this earth who understand the full scope of the human predicament as first rigorously modeled mathematically by a research group at MIT in the late 1960s and published in 1972 under the title, ‘Limits to Growth,’” said a friend, Samuel Bloodgood Hopkins. “A key part of this predicament is the focus of biophysical economics. And Jim presented papers at several of annual conferences of the Society for this kind of economic analysis.”

He was a member of the L’Hirondelle Club, the 14 West Hamilton Street Club and the Wednesday Club.

Survivors include his wife of 59 years, a retired administrative manager at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; two daughters, Martha Gregg of Sioux Falls, South Dakota and Caroline Scace of Laytonsville; a son, Charles Case of Aspen, Colorado; a sister, Elizabeth Crowther Case of Concord, Massachusetts; and five grandchildren.

A celebration of life is scheduled for 3 p.m. Oct. 20 at the L’Hirondelle Club of Ruxton, 7611 L’Hirondelle Club Road.

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