Dr. Jimmie Vandergriff passed away at his home in Jacksonville, FL on May 4, 2023 at the age of 76. Jim was born on May 13, 1946 in Paducah, KY to Savannie Ayers and TR Vandergriff. The youngest of five children, Jim was deeply curious and fascinated by numbers from a young age. Through the encouragement of a teacher, Jim discovered he had a gift for computations and by 8th grade he immersed himself in the study of mathematics.
Jim and Shirley met in Chicago, IL in 1965 and they married soon after. At the young age of 25, they adopted Shirley’s five younger siblings when her mother tragically passed away. They had little to give at the time, but Jim worked hard to provide a loving home for the large family, putting aside his education and building a career in computer programming. Jim eventually became President of Computer Programming, Inc. (CPI), where he spent his career through the 1980s.
Jim’s passion for math eventually brought him back to school where he achieved his dream of a doctorate in Mathematics from Vanderbilt University (1997) at the age of 51. He spent the remainder of his life in education, dedicating 26 years of service to Austin Peay State University as a professor of math and computer science. He was deeply connected to his work as an educator and spoke often about how one teacher changed his life.
Jim was a life-long fan of University of Kentucky basketball and the Green Bay Packers. He was a family man who loved traditions and made sure Christmas was special every year and that his family never skipped the pecan pie or sweet potatoes.
Jim is survived by his loving wife of 56 years, Shirley Vandergriff, their three biological children - Jim Vandergriff and his wife, Katie Vandergriff; Jody Vandergriff and her husband, Steve Rabkin; and Pamela Patton. Jim was a proud and adoring “Gramps” to his eight grandchildren - Josh, Jenna and Jamie Vandergriff; Isaac and Ava Rabkin; and Maddie, Cooper and Hudson Patton. He is also survived by his five adopted children - Donald, James, Harold and Darrell Whitledge and Kim McElhaney and Shirley’s other siblings - Ronald and Wayne Edwards and Debra Shepherd and their extended families. And last, Jim leaves behind his sweet bichon puppy, Snuggles.
Jim was preceded in death by his parents - Savannie (Ayers) and TR Vandergriff; his brothers, Carl and JR Vandergriff; and his sisters, Lavada Vandergriff Reeves and Dora Dudley.
A visitation for Jim will be held on May 27, 2023, at 11:00 AM at Neal-Tarpley-Parchman Funeral Home in Clarksville, TN. This will be followed by a funeral service at the same location, at 1:00 PM. Further honoring Jim's life and legacy, a reception will be held on May 27, 2023, at 3:00 PM at Austin Peay State University, in the Maynard Math & Computer Science Building. As a professor, Jim had a profound impact on the lives of countless students, and this reception is a testament to the enduring connection he shared with the academic community.
Friends, family, and colleagues are invited to attend and pay their respects to a man who touched the lives of so many.
In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be made to the Dr. Jim Vandergriff Memorial Scholarship at the Austin Peay State University Foundation: https://givetoapsu.com/Vandergriff
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