Tribute To Jim At His Celebration Service,
Over the course of the last 25+ years I have had the privilege and great honor to interact with Jim in various roles. From Brother in Christ, to co-adventurer, to business associate, to co-worker, and to boss. The relationships that I most treasure though are…. those of mentor and beloved friend.
You see Jim had a unique gift to impact and change those around him. Many of us who are sitting here today are a testament of that impact and change. Jim certainly impacted me and changed me.
First of all ---Jim changed me by teaching me a new language. This new language as many know, is called “Drakeisms” or to some “ Drakonian Quacking”. The Ensemble Company where I worked for Jim for several years was a subsidiary of Hallmark Cards. Under Jim's leadership Ensemble grew and was known for its product innovation, creativity, and ability to deliver products to market in very compressed timeframes. Our abilities and capabilities where admired by many in the industry. As one can imagine, in this fast paced environment, problems surfaced and questions were asked from corporate about our market strategy and direction.
One of Jim's many roles as President of Ensemble was to run this interference from the “Mother Ship” or “The Beast”. For those that have not been fully trained in the art of “Drakonian Quaking” the translation for the “Mother Ship” and “The Beast” meant Hallmark Corporate. As Jim put it, “The Bureauds” were wanting to “niggle” in the operations of the company. Jim classified these interferences from the “Mother Ship” depending upon the level of intensity. If it was a mild issue, Jim would label it as a ‘flail dogger'. Jim could always take care of all stray ‘flail dogger” issues. If the intensity of the situation increased, Jim would heighten the level of concern to “flail-o-rama”. The “flail-o-rama” meant that the problem could not be quickly solved and that he may be tied up for a while…..but for the Senior Management Team, we were to continue on as normal. On a few occasions Jim would label interference from the Mother Ship as a “Cluster Flail” and in some really severe cases a “ Major Cluster Flail” The Drakeism definition for “Major Cluster Flail” meant that all hands were to be on deck and ready to defend and support our efforts on multiple fronts. And so we did. Jim's constant reminder and encouragement through our all our victories and challenges at Ensemble was to always…. put the “Fun” Back into Dysfunctional.
The second area where Jim changed me was in my ability of being creativity and to dream bigger, think deeper, and to explore endless possibilities. Jim was never limited by boundaries. He always encouraged and challenged me to expand my horizons, whether that was in my professional world, family life, or on my Journey with Christ. It was always about the journey not the destination. It was about the discovery. It was always about the “A HA” moments.
Jim also taught me to laugh and to live in the moment. We all have stories of Jim. One of my favorite stories about Jim involves two words. Cigars and Convertibles. Jim and I with a group of other buddies would often ride bikes on trails either in Lawrence or Blue River. Well on this particular Sunday morning before church it was just the two of us that could make it. We were coming to the end our ride for the day when Jim decided to go through huge 20 foot mud puddle versus going around it. Well to much of Jim's amazement, the entry into the puddle was not a gradual one as he thought, but was an immediate drop off. Jim immediately flipped over the handle bars and as a result every part of his being was covered in mud. Literally from head to toe --- mud on his face and all over his clothes. We got back to the car and Jim stripped down to just his boxer shorts. Being the introvert that I am, I expected Jim to be a little more discrete on the drive back to my house. You see though to not live in the moment would be out of Jim's nature. So with only boxer shorts on, convertible top down, lit cigars in mouth, Jim and I drove down 435 as those passing laughed in amazement. Jim changed me because he challenged me to live in the moment.
Jim changed me because he had a heart for all those he came in contact with. I think all of us would agree that Jim never made it about himself. It was always about you, it was always about others. The most important person in the world to Jim was always …. You….
Lastly Jim changed me in my walk with Christ. He challenged me to plunge into God's Awesomeness, Great Love and Heart for us, and to explore His Majesty through his Unfathomable Creation. For Jim it was about the journey. And I thank Jim for having the heart for me.... to invite me to join him in this Journey.