My husband and I graduated from MIT in the mid-90s, and we STILL remember Big Jimmy with gratitude and affection.
We miss Jimmy.
The giant ring of keys jingling as he huffed up the stairs... his contagious laughter... the random gossip, and the insightful observations...
Jimmy had this way of wiping the sweat off his forehead with a goofy smile, all the while observing with piercing eyes, from behind the back of his hand, what a student was REALLY up to. He was offering advice without seeming to, yet always getting to the heart of the problem. Oh, and the brisket! Holy smokes, the brisket! He gifted Carlos (my hubby, then-boyfriend) with this GIANT brisket, and told us stories of the meat-packing plant, and emphasized that we should only eat meat where we can see the actual grain of the meat (muscle), and avoid sausage or processed meat ("Hoo, boy, do you REALLY want me to tell you what they put in it?"). Good advice, BTW. Because we were poor college students, and new to cooking for ourselves, we confessed that we didn't know what to do with he brisket, so Jimmy brought a bunch of spices and rub and showed us how to cook it in the oven. It was delicious. (OK, for poor students like us, it was heavenly. Move over, late-night Domino's pizza delivery.)
When we returned, five years after graduating, he called us by name, shook our hands, and took us on a dorm tour while letting us in on the latest news. I reported, proudly, that I was recruiting for my company in the next day's career fair, and you should have seen the smile that blossomed on his face! Right away, he asked me for several business cards, to pass to students that he knew were looking for jobs. Forget the career fair; THAT's when I felt like I had arrived, I made it, I am in a position to help others! Jimmy offered that kind of validation.
Oh, and in the early 90s, he also offered to open the EC lounge one night for my mom and younger brother, when he found them sleeping on reclined seats in their car, parked outside EC. (They had been visiting me, took me to LSC for the late movie, and were too tired to get driving back to NH for 2 hrs. So they napped in the car, Jimmy found them on his rounds, and insisted they move to the EC lounge, for safety.)
For some strange reason, officer Collier's passing reminded me of Jimmy. They seemed birds of a feather, even though they had never met. Jimmy was kind to us at a critical time in our young lives, and made the brutal stress of MIT a little easier to survive. Jimmy lives on, in our hearts, and we are now telling our kids about him. I suppose, the way he had "soul" kids in the the MIT students, he how has "soul" grand kids, and his story gets told one more time.