Longtime chemistry professor James Jung dies at 95

Dr. James Jung was a prominent figure in Campbell University’s history, arriving on campus as a professor of chemistry in 1962 and teaching generations of students for the next 46 years that followed. After that first year, he was promoted to chair of the Chemistry Department, and he would eventually rise to chair of Campbell’s Division of Mathematics and Science.

Not bad for a guy who didn’t even take chemistry in high school or as a college undergrad. 

Jung, a brilliant man who loved puns, playing his guitar, golf and solving puzzles, died on May 19 at Universal Healthcare in Lillington. He lived to be 95 years old.

 He was a graduate of J.W. Cannon High School in Kannapolis in the 1940s and attended Davidson College, where he was part of the ROTC program and team captain of the wrestling team (where he was known as “The Dragon”). He served as 1st Lieutenant in the U.S. Army from 1951-1953. Following his service, he pursued additional certification at Catawba College.

After earning a Master of Education from UNC-Chapel Hill, Jung’s focus turned to chemistry, and he earned his PhD in organic chemistry from UNC before coming to Campbell. At Campbell, he developed close friendships with fellow professor and academic dean Dr. A.R. Burkot and then-Vice President for Business Lonnie Small. 

”I was a little rookie teacher when I first came here and Burkot kept me straight for many years,” he said in 2008. “Small introduced computers to campus and I watched him during the early development of the Keith Hills Golf Course and community.”

At the time of his retirement, Jung said his greatest accomplishment as a professor was his students, not the many accolades he received. 

“I never kept those things (awards),” he said. “But many of my students have gone on to get graduate degrees and become very successful.” His advice to new students who are pondering their career paths is to major in chemistry. “If you major in chemistry, you’ll never regret it.”

Jung was preceded in death by his wife, Patty Ludwig Jung;  his parents, his sister Mazelle Lee, and brothers Newmoon Jung, Kineson Jung, Lincoln Jung, and Walker Jung. 

He is survived by his children: Anita Bunce (Linwood), Dayna Scarborough (Rusty), Alisa Powers (Doug), David Jung (Johanna), and Krystal Alligood (Bart); his grandchildren: Daryn Stylianopoulos, Lin Story-Bunce, Kendall Grubb, June Bunce, Kirstyn Scarborough, Draegen Scarborough, Derrick Powers, Garyn Jung, Adrien Jung, Cohen Jung, Aydan Alligood, David Alligood, and Clay Alligood; his great-grandchildren: Fayrah Stylianopoulos, Anna Stylianopoulos, Teddy Stylianopoulos, Loukas Bunce, Maryn Bunce, Rya Bunce, Paxton Bunce, and Clara Grubb; and many special nieces and nephews.

A celebration of life will be held at 2 p.m. on May 25 at Memorial Baptist Church in Buies Creek. A time of fellowship will be held immediately following the service at the church. 

Memorials may be made to the James M. Jung & Patty L. Jung Endowed College of Arts and Sciences Scholarship Fund of Campbell University, Office of Scholarships, P.O. Box 567, Buies Creek, NC 27506; or to Memorial Baptist Church, P.O. Box 485, Buies Creek, NC  27506.

Excerpt from a 2013 Campbell Magazine feature on Dr. A.R. Burkot: 

He was a master of languages. He taught five of them, could speak seven fluently and if you count those he could read, the number climbed to at least 12.

But even A.R. Burkot was stumped by the small piece of paper taped to the office door of Dr. James Jung, the chemistry professor at then-Campbell College from the 1960s and beyond. The paper read:

O simili si ergo
Fortibus ees enero
O nobili deus trux
Vatis ennum
Causan dux

If there was a language Burkot loved most, it was Latin — the root of all languages — yet Jung’s little poem came off as gibberish. Puzzled and somewhat angry with himself, Burkot took the paper off the door and approached Jung, almost demanding a translation.

“Turn it over,” Jung told him. Looking at the other side, Burkot read aloud:

Oh see Emily, see her go,
Forty buses in a row.
Oh no, Billy, they is trucks.
What is in em?
Cows and ducks.

“Oh, he was angry,” recalled Jung, now a professor emeritus whose years with Campbell number 51. “He turned around and stomped off in disgust.”