My Uncle Jim had a different kind of life than what many of us can understand. His dad passed away when Uncle Jim was only 8 years old, just shortly before his dad’s youngest son, my Uncle Jim’s brother David was born. Most kids his age would have crumbled, so to speak, but not Uncle Jim. His mom needed his help. There were the children to care for, and the new baby was coming. There was little time to grieve, because there was much work to do. When his brother arrived, Uncle Jim instantly became a surrogate father of sorts. He took on the big responsibility if helping to raise his younger brother, and of showing him the kind of man their dad would want him to be. I know that as a little boy, you would think that he couldn’t do much, but he did what he could, and as he got older, he took on more and more responsibility where his younger siblings were concerned.
Even though Uncle Jim had lots of responsibility at home, he didn’t let that interfere with his school activities. While I can’t say what kind of a student he was, I can tell you that he was an amazing athlete…especially in the area of the hurdles. He and his brothers set a number of records in Bassett, Nebraska for various sports, and Uncle Jim, especially in the hurdles. Uncle Jim also set a standard of behavior in that high school. When he went back for one of his class reunions, another student, who was a self confessed wild child, told Uncle Jim that if it weren’t for him, he probably wouldn’t have survived high school…explaining that there were a number of times that he was driving home drunk, and wouldn’t have made it if he had not been able to follow my Uncle Jim home. I’m sure that the man probably surprised Uncle Jim with that revelation, because I know that if Uncle Jim would have know that the boy was driving drunk, he would have just taken him home.
After high school, Uncle Jim and several of his brothers would move to Casper, and some would live with Uncle Jim, including his youngest brother Dave. Later after he married my Aunt Dixie, his mother would move to Casper, and live with them for some time. He and my Aunt Dixie have always been all about family, whether it was his, hers, or their own family. They are close to all of them, and they are a blessing to all of them, and anyone else who has the pleasure of knowing them, too. Today is my Uncle Jim’s birthday. Happy birthday Uncle Jim!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you!!