James E. Poth

Published 12:30 am Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Mr. James E. Poth, age 78, died Sept. 12, 2011, at Woodland Country Manor in Somerville, Butler County, Ohio, after a long illness.

Mr. Poth’s life was a journey through knowledge and a trek he generously shared with thousands of Miami University students during a long and storied career. Mr. Poth’s teaching in the field of nuclear physics was a popular mainstay for 38 years on the Oxford campus, where he was a professor and affiliate professor with Miami’s Institute of Environmental Sciences and Department of Teacher Education. His research interests included nuclear physics education. He was one of the founding directors of the Miami Teaching Science with Toys Program and a director of the Physics Institute/Project Discovery.

Mr. Poth, a native of Galion, Ohio, attended Miami University on a U.S. Navy ROTC scholarship. After earning his bachelor’s degree in physics, he was commissioned in the Navy, where he served as an instructor at the NavalAir Defense Training Center at Dam Neck, Va.

At Virginia Beach, he met his future wife, Alice Faye Etheridge of Engelhard. After three years in Navy, Mr. Poth returned to Miami University, where he earned a master’s degree in physics. At Yale University he earned both a master’s and a Ph.D. in nuclear physics. He returned to Miami in 1966 as a professor in the Department of Physics, where he taught for nearly four decades. Later in his career, he was also a visiting professor at Curtin University in Perth, Australia.

Alice was Mr. Poth’s wife of 51 years. She said her husband was a man “who was always in motion” developing into an avid runner and all around sportsman in his leisure time to accompany his hobbies of international travel, wine and art collecting.

He was patriotic and very enthusiastic about life, including the arts. He loved to collect art and he had season tickets to the Playhouse in the Park, the Broadway Series and the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, his wife said. Mr. Poth was a judge at the Cincinnati International Wine Festival for 16 years and a member of Faith Lutheran Church of Oxford and the Miami Men’s Club.

In addition to his wife, survivors include a son, Michael Poth of Dayton, Ohio; two daughters, Betsy Stewart of Charleston, S.C., and Amy Poth of St. Louis, Mo., and seven grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his brother, Harold Engel.

A memorial celebration was held at Faith Lutheran Church in Oxford Oct. 8, 2011.

A memorial fund has been established in honor of Poth at the Miami University Foundation, which will support physics education. Contributions may be addressed to Miami University Foundation, c/o Dr. James Poth Memorial Fund, 725 E. Chestnut St., Oxford, OH 45056.

Condolences may be sent to the family at home or online to www.smithoglefuneralhome.com.