There are many measures of the man, but one that I have come to believe in over time is “generosity.” More than anyone I’ve known, Jim gave meaning to that word.
Early in my tenure as managing editor of In These Times, he’d hand me the keys to his beloved Honda Accord whenever he ventured out of Chicago. After I married, he once loaned us his family’s Manhattan co-op with its grand view of Central Park and collection of Impressionist paintings. When I told him a few years ago how much I enjoyed sunsets on the Great Lakes, he insisted that my family borrow his and Beth’s weekend getaway in Lakeside, Michigan. We obliged. Four times.
He was at his most generous after he’d prevailed at a poker game the previous night. I’d inquire the next day, “How did you do?” More often than not, he would respond with a sly smile, “I’m taking you to lunch today.” This happened so frequently over the 12 years we worked together that I lost count. Yet I have not lost sight of the abiding lesson that Jimmy taught by his example: Hold on tight to your ideals but share everything else, no strings attached, with those around you. I, and scores of Jimmy’s other protegés, are indebted to our teacher.