I had no clue when this short, scrawny, biker looking dude came into my office at the UU church on August 9, 2007 that he would be such an asset to the church and would end up being my amazing best friend.
The first time I met Jim I had only worked at the church for two days and he was here (supposedly) to fix something and needed a key. I was very untrusting and had no idea who he was, and was not willing to just hand over a key. So, I followed him to where he was going all the while listening to his mouth go 100 miles per hour telling me about all the jobs he had done for the church in the past couple of years. Then he carried on about having raised Joan Smalley's house, or working at Jennifer Howard's home and on and on. One of my first thoughts is oh my God can this guy not shut up.
Once I got use to him going on and on I realized he was funny, good natured and a great guy. He made many trips to the church over the past ten years to fix leaking urinals, holes in the roof, air conditioning problems, boiler problems and so much more. He always said he would do anything but PAINT!!
Jim also did work at many of UUCF congregants’ homes whether it was cutting down a tree, repairing a driveway, installing a furnace or remodeling a kitchen. He loved the work he did and helping people.
In the outside world, he was a biker through and through. His Harley-Davidson was around 18 years old and had over 500,000 miles on it. He did not care if the sun was shining or if it was raining out, if your alive it’s always a good day to ride.
Many kids have been thankful that he did not mind riding in the snow. For the past 20 years Jim dressed up as Santa Claus on Christmas Eve and rode his Harley with its sidecar and took presents to children in orphanages and foster care homes in five different counties. By the time he was done and home he would be cold and shivering but all he could talk about was the smiles on the kids faces.
His death is heartbreaking. At 58-years-old he had so many things he still wanted to accomplish. I am thankful that I am one of the lives he touched. I am thankful that over 400 people came to honor him at his funeral, then again for the fundraiser. I am thankful that UUCF took an extra collection on January 7 to help his wife with the funeral expenses.
Most of all I am thankful that he kept talking, he kept being the man he was and that I had the honor of being his best friend and him mine!