I had the good fortune to meet him six and a half years ago at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church. I started working there part-time after the birth of Little Son, and it was not unusual to see him coming into the church several days a week. He was the president of his Sunday school class for two decades, a tireless volunteer for the church’s Building on Faith capital campaign and construction project and loved helping out with the Area Missions Outreach Services (AMOS) food pantry. When Jim came to the church, he always made sure to stop by everyone’s office to check in on them or tell us a story from his week. He was a fastidious man, never a hair out of place, perfect clothes. Jim was kind and genuine, a true gentleman, quick to laugh and share a smile.
The thing that I loved the most about Jim – well, besides the fact that he always called me “young lady” – was how much he loved other people. If Jim told you he was glad to see you, he meant it. If he offered to do something for you, consider it done. He did all things with sincerity and because he loved serving others.
Jim also loved his life, especially his beautiful wife Beverly. Beverly is an amazing hostess and cook, and he was puffed up like a pride soufflé when he stopped by my office to tell me that she and a friend were publishing their very own cook book. Jim was quite the dancer as well. A few years ago, the Hubs and I were literally shamed off the floor at a wedding when the McClatchys decided to cut a rug. Man, could they move, and you couldn’t miss the smile on his face as they wove and spun their way across the room. He took great pride in their home and enjoyed helping Beverly around the house and yard. Anyone who says men don’t like to clean never met Jim, and he taught me his tricks for having sparkling windows.
The man was crazy crazy crazy in love with his “little grand-daughter” Ashlyn. He couldn’t wait to sing her praises, seeing as she is a bit of a “total package.” A lot like her grandparents, really!
Jim also had a heart for those who needed help. Each year, St. Luke’s hosts a trunk-or-treat Halloween event for the neighborhood kids. Many of those children don’t have costumes, much less a fancy Pottery Barn treat bucket. They come in their school clothes with pillow cases or crumpled grocery sacks from Albertson’s or the Dollar Store clutched in their little hands. When Jim realized the need, he paid to have Halloween goodie bags printed with Sunday school and children’s ministry information to hand out to all the kids who attended. He wanted them to know St. Luke’s was a place where they were welcomed.
I think that his need to help others was one of the reasons he was so passionate about his work for AMOS. Jim bargained with grocers across Midland to get the best deals on bulk food items and was known to relieve entire store shelves of pasta, peanut butter and canned vegetables if he found a good sale while he was out running errands.
Jim was such a presence at St. Luke’s that I think a lot of us considered him de facto staff. He told me once that he was spending so much of his “retirement” working for the church as a way to show his thankfulness for the big and deep changes God made in his life many years ago. My heart hurts for his sweet family and our church family. Thank you, Jim, you changed each of us with the big and deep love you gave to all. You will be so very missed.