Dr. James Joseph (Jim) Vavra, age 90, formerly of Portage, Michigan, passed away at home on March 13, 2020. Jim was born on August 30, 1929 in Boulder, Colorado to Charles and Ruth Vavra. He was a graduate of Boulder High School (1947) and the University of Colorado (1951). While attending CU, Jim met Georgia Ann Woelbing. They were married on August 25, 1951 in Denver. The young couple relocated to Madison, where Jim attended the University of Wisconsin and earned an M.S. (1953) and a Ph.D. (1955) in biochemistry. Jim and Georgia shared a 66-year partnership dedicated to love, support, family, civic engagement, travel, and mutual respect that lasted until 2017 when Georgia passed away with Jim at her side. Jim was a scientist at his core. In his youth, he and his older brother, John, would study and chart the stars and planets in the night sky near the foothills of Chautauqua Park. As the Earth made its long journey around the Sun, he would make careful notes of his observations. Jim grew up in the shadows of the Boulder Flatirons, where he was known in the neighborhood as "Pinky Pus." Pinky was a smart, and wise-cracking young man, an excellent student, and an active member of the First Presbyterian church. He worked in the circulation department of the Boulder Daily Camera and worked summer jobs in the Grounds Department (or as he called it the "Dry-Grass Division") of the University of Colorado, where his father was the gymnastics coach. While studying in Madison, Jim and Georgia formed friendships with a group of young, talented, international scientists from Canada, Holland, Australia, and India. These proved to be lifelong relationships that formed the core of Jim and Georgia's social and professional lives. In 1955, the newly minted Dr. James Vavra accepted a position with the Upjohn Pharmaceutical Company of Kalamazoo, relocating the young couple, now with their first child, to Michigan. During his 34 years plus at the Upjohn Company, Dr. Vavra served as a clinical researcher, project leader, section head, and associate director, becoming an early expert in the areas of biomodification of drugs using microorganisms, antibiotic discovery and development, and antibiotic resistance research. Throughout his long tenure in the Infectious Diseases section, Jim earned the reputation of being both a focused, meticulous scientist and a prolific and ingenious office prankster. The same man who played a pivotal role in the development and testing of some of that era's most important life-saving antibiotics, was also known to perpetrate a month's long elaborate ruse centered on a non-existent employee, to empty out a vacationing coworker's office, or to compose humorous limericks to mark a colleague's retirement. Jim and Georgia embraced life in Southwest Michigan, where they raised a growing family of five children. They impressed upon their children the importance of social justice. Jim was a vocal supporter of civil rights in his church and community. While Georgia focused on Portage municipal planning and politics, Jim served as Vice Chair of the Portage Historic District Commission and was the creator and teacher of a "Faces and Places in Kalamazoo County" class. He also volunteered as an executive board member of Hospice of Southwest Michigan, and an elementary school mentor. In spite of his significant academic, professional, and civic accomplishments, Jim took most pride in his role as a husband, father, and Deda (grandfather). He was an engaged and loving man who made every member of his family feel valued and important-a role model of integrity, thoughtfulness, and wisdom. Even as it became more difficult to get around, Jim would always make his way to the stands, bleachers, or concert halls to cheer on his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, just as he had with each of his five children. His sincere interest and engagement in others is evidenced by the legions of friends and family, young and old, who counted Jim as their confidant and mentor. In the final years of his life, Jim embraced the title of "Cookie Deda" for the stack of store-bought cookies he kept on his counter for his beloved great-grandchildren. Throughout his life, Jim had a curious mind and an affection for data collection. Every interest, hobby, or adventure pursued-from astronomy to history, travel to outdoor cooking, literature to backwater fishing to photography-was all archived with meticulous notes. Jim spent his life filling notebooks, index cards, and scraps of paper with notations of aperture settings, darkroom times, gas prices, miles per gallon, weights, historical dates, exit numbers, weather conditions, recipe modifications, temperatures, cooking times, spice measurements, and fishing conditions. It was probably this desire to log meaningful data that caused Jim such amused consternation when he took up the hobby of smoking meats. His favorite cooker was a red charcoal fueled smoker; it was a good cooker, but it's temperature gauge lacked any precision-it was merely a circular dial with a small red needle that moved from "Cool" on the left, to "Ideal" in the center, to "Hot" on the right. Contrary to the stereotype of the detached scientist, Jim was a man of great heart, warmth, and humor, and he was the first to recognize the absurdities of life. So, after carefully weighing the meat, measuring and taking notes on the spices that made up the rub, calculating the exact cook time (factoring in the ambient temperature and writing it all down) there was little data for the scientist to collect once the meat was in the cooker. Midway through the calculated cooking time Jim would invariably check the status of the dial, only to return with a bemused smile to declare, "Well, the needle is in the middle of Ideal." Though it may lack the precision that the scientist might prefer, all data leads to one clear conclusion-Dr. James J. Vavra made 90 trips around the sun, from, "Pinky" to "Cookie Deda," keeping the needle situated firmly in the middle of Ideal. Jim is survived by his children, Charlie (Nancy) of Colorado, Stan (Debbie) of Oklahoma, Steve (Karen) of Iowa, Mark (Mary Jane) and son-in-law Gregg Charlton of Michigan, 15 grandchildren, and 11 great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Georgia; his beloved daughter, Lee Ann Charlton; and his granddaughter, Georgia Tylar-Ruth Vavra of Iowa. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Hospice of Southwest Michigan. An open house and remembrance of Jim is being planned for the summer.