Sunday, March 10, 2013

1146 Goodbye to a Young Old Friend

       Jim Kingsland
Jim Kingsland denied owning the coffee mug on the desk in his cubicle.  The enormous cup.  Printed on it: “Thank God it’s Monday.”  But that’s how he looked at the job and at the people he worked with and for and for the people who worked for him.

And work he did, though rarely did it seem that way.  Every once in awhile some wiseguy would pass him and then ask the next person down the line “does that guy have a pulse?”  It was a joke then, because of his perpetual calmness. But only a few years later, it became a serious question.

And last week, the answer changed.

You see that picture up top?  That was taken in 1999... a man in his prime.  An expert on the markets,  economics, metals and coins; on human relations.  The go-to guy for answers, for help, for sanity in one of America’s most chaotic major international news rooms.

If Mike Bloomberg could have imagined the ideal worker from scratch, Jim is who would have been it.   Mike did the next best thing: found and hired Jim Kingsland at the very start of the company’s radio efforts.

Jim spoke slowly and quietly, maybe even shyly when not on the air.  Not only quietly, but sparingly.  And if you had a question, you generally got a short answer, which later you realized was all you needed.  No curlicues, no swirls and flourishes.  No long, involved explanations. Just straight talk.

One can’t summarize or describe a life in a few hundred words, nor express the sense of loss.  The obits try and this one from the Lower Hudson Journal Register comes close.

But really, it’s impossible.

Jim’s influence in the workplace was so subtle sometimes that we didn’t know it was happening.  That’s the best kind.  And the worst.  Best because it wasn’t showboating.  Worst because many have yet to realize that was what happened to them.

It’s easy to say things like “I know how you feel” or “time heals...”  But you don’t, and it doesn’t.

So please don’t tell his three children, his widow, his mother or his brother any of that.

Instead remember the smartest guy in the room, with an outlook on life that we can all learn from; with a spirit and will to fight that in and for  those last few years when it was almost able to stave off a series of catastrophic and stunningly complex physical problems.  Remember the kindest guy in the room who took his work and his obligations seriously, and himself with a grain of salt.

There has been a huge outpouring of information and condolences on Facebook and through e-mail from a long list of his friends, each offering  praise and sorrow.

It’s too bad Jim wasn’t around to see them.  On the other hand, he probably would have been embarrassed by all the attention.

We last spoke only a few days ago.  And while he sounded weak, he also sounded hopeful.  Would that it were “We most recently spoke” instead of “we last spoke.”

Forty nine years old. God called the wrong man home at the wrong time.
I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2013

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