James Appel began his studies at Franklin and Marshall during the 1924-25 academic year. He received his B.S. degree in 1928 and was named to Phi Beta Kappa. Appel made his contribution to F&M athletics both on the field and from the sidelines. During his undergraduate years, Appel was a track star, leading the Diplomats as team captain in 1928. A middle distance runner, Appel ran times of 1:59 for the 880-yard run, and 53.0 for the 440-yard run. Both times were exceptional of that period in history. In addition to athletics, Appel was active in many campus activities, including Chi Phi fraternity.
Following graduation, he attended the University of Pennsylvania medical school. Returning to Lancaster, he embarked upon a medical career that took him to the top of his profession. He was elected to serve as the president of the American Medical Association in 1964-65. Appel also helped organize the F&M student health facility and served as its director from 1934 to 1971. In 1959, the Appel Infirmary was dedicated in honor of the Appel family, whose members had served F&M with skill and devotion. For 37 years, Appel also served as the athletic team physician, ministering to thousands of injured athletes. Dr. James Appel passed away on August 31, 1981 at the age of 74.