Maroon & Gray Society Class of 2024 James Bloom ’71

James Bloom ’71 looks back fondly on his days at State High, but that doesn’t mean he’d do it all over again. “I made friends, enjoyed sports and clubs, and thoroughly treasured representing State High as the Little Lion mascot. Those good memories will linger for a lifetime,” he said. “So will memories of two teachers who were also mentors, Martha Waite (English) and Joe Filko (World Cultures) who saw potential in me that perhaps even I didn’t sense. Joe and I are still Facebook friends today.  But that said, I would not seize an opportunity to go back and relive that high school experience.  State High prepared me, no doubt. But I have happily discovered that each phase of my life so far has been more rewarding and more fulfilling than the phase before, culminating in retirement.”

Like most kids who grew up in State College, James said he learned the value of relentlessly journeying toward betterment, both personally and as a member of the community. For him, that involved a career as a physician and 31 years of service in the US Navy.  “I am proud and fortunate to be one of the 6% of Americans who are veterans. I was in Washington, DC, on September 11th and felt the ground shake when the hijacked airliner struck the Pentagon. I oversaw the mobilization of hospital ships in support of New York City. Later, while Commanding Officer of a hospital in Europe, a new mother in our maternity suite was on the verge of bleeding to death after her delivery.  We exhausted our stored blood but could not stop her bleeding. In desperation, we mobilized the sailors on base in a massive, on-the-spot, blood drive that gathered enough to save the young woman’s life.  In many small ways with individual patients, and some big ways with our nation, I believe I made a difference,” he said.

“I look to the future with anticipation,” James shared. “Life is too short not to immerse oneself in the many fascinating activities I now enjoy: teaching for OLLI, broadcasting for WPSU, volunteering as a physician, writing and researching history, and helping in my community.”

James’ advice to today’s students is to learn something new every day and to never stop learning. “The more you experience, and the more deeply you learn about those things, the more fascinating they become,” he said.

His induction into the Maroon & Gray Society has special meaning to him. “Every-day-individuals often accomplish extraordinary things. But the good work done by so many much too often goes unrecognized, or worse, unnoticed. I saw that with my late father. The truly selfless things he completed in his lifetime have largely been taken for granted since his passing. That’s why induction into the Maroon and Gray Society is so meaningful.  I know my parents, my teachers, and my mentors would be proud.  To be counted among the very worthy inductees of this year, and the many from the past, is an absolute honor, albeit undeserved.”

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