Walter B. James was a prominent local physician and member of the Biological Laboratory’s Board of Directors for 26 years. He was the President of the Board and the Long Island Biological Association at the time of his death in 1927. After LIBA assumed control of the Bio Lab in 1924, Dr. James provided valuable leadership to the Board as it focused on securing its future among prominent research institutions. The purchase of 33 acres of land west of Bungtown Road was the beginning of these renewed efforts and along with increased financial support, allowed for the expansion of the facilities as well as the research and scientific staff.
To recognize her husband’s affiliations with the Bio Lab, Mrs. Helen James presented a gift to the Board for the construction of a memorial building. The Biophysics Laboratory was then built in 1929 and the Board unanimously voted to name it the Doctor Walter B. James Memorial Laboratory. In a tribute to Dr. James in the Annual Report of that year, he was described as having a “rare and valuable understanding both of the scientific work and of the administrative problems” at the Bio Lab and he took an active and ardent interest in both. He regularly visited the workers in their laboratories and was fondly remembered for his generosity and thoughtfulness in providing for whatever they might need.