The first time I met The Boz was after one of my first broadcasts at KATU. He came into the Weather Center wearing his wide-brimmed hat, looked down at me and said "Well you look like you know what you're doing out there." Followed by, "stick around kid, I'll teach you everything you need to know." And he did.
Listening to my fellow broadcasters share stories about Jim at his memorial service on Monday brought back a flood of memories and some new realizations. Like the reason I carry but don't wear my suit jacket in to work: I got that habit from Jim. He said it saved wear and tear. I forgot about that, it's just what I do. Because of Jim. My leather briefcase, that carries a lot of junk I don't need to tote around all time. Jim. He needed a bag for the battery of books he'd preview for AM Northwest. Me? I still do it because Jim did it. I'd forgotten about that until Monday. My co-workers at KGW have I'm sure grown tired of my smart-aleck response of "I'll be the judge of that" to everything from how much time I'll have for my weathercast to how nice a day it is. I got that from Jim too. Every time I say it, I think of Jim. On the air, I sometimes blow off the anchors weather comment toss to me, to make some hopefully funny remark about the story right before weather. Another habit I got from Jim. He was the master of that. Even if it didn't always work he could get away with it because he was The Boz. I'm merely tolerated. But it always reminds me of Jim and the zillion things he taught me. When I got to KATU I was a good meteorologist, passionate for sure about Northwest weather. But Jim made me a broadcaster. Over the nine years we worked together, we grew very close. He was at times exasperating but always inspiring. He could be incredibly self-centered, but rarely selfish. I walked into the weather center one day and he was rubbing his bald head like he used to. He was reading a letter from a viewer, holding something in his hands and seemed a bit perplexed. I asked "What's up, Jim?" He was holding the ugliest pair of cuff links I think either one of us had ever seen. The viewer wrote that these belonged to her dead husband and she wanted Jim to have them. We had a bit of a chuckle about how odd that was, but Jim was really struggling with how to respond to the widow. He wrote her a kind and supportive letter. I don't recall exactly what he said but I remember reading it and thinking "that's brilliant". What to do with the dead husband's cufflinks? He gave them to me, probably just to get rid of them in a non-disrespectful way. I still have those cuff links.
When I left KATU for KGW, more than a few people questioned the move. KATU had been and was still number one at the time. Jim's response: "That's terrific!." I knew Jim well enough to know this was one of his standard lines. He once told me; if I was asked in a newspaper interview or by anyone about a co-worker, just say "They're terrific!" And he could sell it like no one else. So I knew he was just being supportive. But that was Jim. He helped me through divorce, relationship ups and downs and getting bounced around at KATU. He relished the stories of my outdoor adventures and pushed me to do fun Mr. Science bits on the air. He's the reason I started doing hits for KINK radio.
As the years went on we kept in touch, but not as much as I should have. We talked several months ago and he told me about the mis-diagnosis of his health, and how he was doing much better. I knew as soon as we spoke that he was doing much better because he sounded like Jim again. It lifted my spirits to hear it. He called me about three weeks before he left this world. He wanted to know if I was mad at him. What?!, I thought. He said he asked because he hadn't heard from me in a long time and we had been really good friends. "No no, Jim, I could never be mad at you, I'll call you soon and we'll get together." I didn't know he was sick again. I'll be mad at myself for that for a long time. I'm just plain sad that I didn't get to see him, laugh with him and be inspired by him one more time. We, or I at least, can get so wrapped up in our own life's trials and tribulations that we don't take or make the time to check in on the one's who are important to us. I know I'm not the only one guilty of this. But this is one of the greatest things I learned from Jim: It doesn't take a lot of effort to make someone feel special. Jim did it so seamlessly, through both the camera lens and in person that it seemed effortless. It was certainly effortless for him when it came to his wife Karen. I will always admire how wonderfully in love he was with her and how beautifully he treated her. So to "My Friend" as Jim often said when greeting people, I say thank you. Thank you for taking me under your wing, for teaching me about television, for sharing with me your many passions and joys in life. Knowing and working with you enriched my life beyond what words can say. You made me a better broadcaster, but more importantly you made me a better person.
KGW Chief Meteorologist