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Jim Lisle Hooker


1937 - 2016 Obituary Condolences Gallery
Jim Lisle Hooker Obituary
July 13, 1937 - June 26, 2016 With his crooked smile and that special light in his eyes, our dear friend Jim Hooker said goodbye on June 22, 2016. He accepted death and a lasting peace. Peace is something Jim worked hard for: "Working for serenity and peace have been my core engagements," he explained to us in his soft Texas drawl. He did this work through daily meditation and practicing Buddhism. His favorite prayer was the serenity prayer -- "in there is the complete recipe for life," he would say. The serenity he achieved held us all during these past few months. Jim set an incredible example for how to live, and then true to form, he showed us how to die - bravely, responsibly, and peacefully. We love him and will miss him so. When we asked Jim what he was most proud of in his life, he simply responded, "That I have become useful." He lived a life of humble service -- to individuals in his life, his LGBT community, and for the greater good. "My passion is people," he told us. "I can't tell you the number of people I've known!" And we can't tell you how many people he has helped. If you thought of Jim as just a sweet man, well you probably didn't know him well enough. Now by all accounts he was uncommonly sweet. He loved those around him so much that he would do most anything for them. There are countless stories of people who he mentored, advised, cared for, lent money to, fished out of jail, paid for their school, and gave second and even more chances too - and never ever once gave up on. "I'm a spotter," he told us "I can spot talent." And once Jim spotted you, he never let you go. But he loved the people in his life beyond sweetness. He loved us enough to tell us the truth, even when the truth might bruise our friendship or we might argue back a little (okay, maybe even a lot). Perhaps his greatest gift was being strong enough to steadfastly and with love hold a mirror up to us until we could more clearly see ourselves and start working for our peace just like he was working for his. This, surely, is love in its most mature and selfless form. It was a love that changed - and saved - many of our lives. Jim is survived by so many friends and family members who he loved and who love him -- from his meetings, and movie nights, and the Williams Institute Founders Council, and others. And by his sisters Faye Jean and Jane, his nephew Andrew and his niece Jill, and his Aunt Jeanne Peterson Edmund. Jim also used his time, talents, and resources to make this world better for everyone, in particular our LGBT community: "I wanted to work towards getting rid of the stigma of being LGBT, which is why I left Texas." He was born Jim Lisle Hooker on July 13, 1937, in Albany, Texas, to Lloyd Fay Hooker and Alva Ruth Hooker. This was three decades before Stonewall and there were just over 2,000 people in Albany. But Jim found his way to us. By 1977, he knew he had to come out of the closet, so he moved to West Hollywood even before it was West Hollywood. He voted for its incorporation in 1984, became one of its "first citizens," and never left. But Jim didn't just work on his own peace, he went to work to make sure all LGBT people would have better lives. He generously supported the Los Angeles LGBT Center, One Archives, the West Hollywood Library, the West Hollywood Recovery Center, and the Van Ness Recovery House. For the last decade, he supported the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law "whose mission more than fulfilled what I was looking for - to create lasting and systemic change." His support included endowing a first-of-its kind fellowship to support new law professors, including in the South and Midwest, working on LGBT rights. This spring he received the Williams Institute's Excellence in Service Award. Jim also worked to improve our world through political engagement. He supported candidates from across the country who advanced LGBT rights and other progressive issues. In this election cycle, he decided to only give to female candidates: "I believe that until women take their place in full parity with men in all levels of society we will continue to go nowhere fast." Last week, he told us about the lessons he had learned about "leaving the borders of gardens alone." From Saint Francis, to not plant over everything, but to let the borders grow wild so the beauty of nature can continue undisturbed. And from the Bible, that you don't harvest right up to the borders, but leave some behind for the poor. Jim worked hard on his own garden, but with such generosity and consideration of the greater world. He made sure to leave space for the presence of the spirit and for others to grow; he shared selflessly with those he knew and with those he would never know. He leaves everything in order. He leaves so much for us all. He leaves with such peace. We love him and will miss him so. A service to celebrate Jim's life will be held on Sunday July 17 at 2:30 pm at UCLA School of Law. For more information or to RSVP, visit http://goo.gl/forms/7qHqlBPxJLyoE0bp2, or email [email protected]
Published in the Los Angeles Times from July 1 to July 3, 2016
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