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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

In honor of a friend and colleague

Sunday, January 30, 2011

We all have regrets.

They come and go with the passing moments.

In this particular moment, my one regret is that James David will never get to meet one of the most influential men I ever met.

James "Jim" Dressler.

The former Brazil Times' Editor hired me in 1997 to cover sports. I was so thankful he gave me the opportunity and still am to this day.

Although I only worked with him for a short period, he left an impression on my young mind.

Jim was a fantastic person. The type of person anyone would strive to be.

He lived a very fruitful life.

I remember coming to Brazil in 1997 to interview with Jim.

During the interview, I honestly couldn't tell if I was even going to be considered for the position.

At the time, I was working at the Washington Times-Herald as the Assistant Sports Editor.

I had received a phone call from my mentor, Indiana State University faculty member Merv Hendricks, about the Sports Editor position opening up in Brazil and he suggested I give them a call.

So I did.

After my interview, I only had to wait one day.

Jim called me and said if I was interested in the position, it was there for the taking.

So I came to Brazil for selfish reasons because at the time, I wanted to be somewhat close to home.

Working with Jim was a treat.

I learned so much from him.

I can't begin to explain how important my relationship with him was.

Who could forget "Seen and Heard," Jim's weekly column that ran in our newspaper all those years?

I'm certain many people saw their names in that column.

I vividly remember one particular moment where my respect and admiration for Jim swelled.

There was one afternoon where I was in the office putting items together for a football package we were about to publish.

While working on this massive project, something I had never undertaken by myself, I noticed a person go directly into Jim's office.

This person began berating him for something that had been published in the newspaper.

I can't remember exactly what the piece was, but it did not make this person very happy and they were letting Jim have it.

The entire time this person was yelling at him, he continued to listen.

That's all he did. Sit at his desk and listen.

When the person was finished, Jim turned politely and said, "Thank you. Have a good day."

As professional as a person could possibly be after being raked over the coals.

And then he went right back to work.

I was stunned.

And yet, that memory has stuck with me throughout the years. It also left an impression on me.

Since that episode, I have tried to live my professional life by that premise since witnessing that event.

The first three months of my professional life were rather interesting.

I had not completed my college degree until those months were finished because I had to finish a working experience.

Because of this, I didn't receive my degree until later that year.

When the degree finally came in the mail, my parents elected to host a graduation party.

Jim came to that event.

I was so appreciative that he took time out of his schedule to come.

He didn't have to do that. But he did.

That's the type of person he was. He cared about the people in his life.

For that matter, I truly believe Jim cared about everyone who lived in Clay County.

When I came back to The Brazil Times, Jim called welcoming me back.

It is truly an honor to sit in a chair he once occupied.

When news surfaced of Marine Cpl. Gregory Stultz' death, the first person I thought of calling in reference to anything was Jim.

His opinion and advice meant so much to me. He was always very helpful.

I valued those phone calls. It was a pleasure discussing anything with Jim.

I also remember Jim always talking so proudly about his children.

At the time, those conversations meant nothing to me.

But they do now.

Since James David's birth, he's met so many people in my life.

But I do regret never introducing him to Jim.

And that was the first thing that crossed my mind Sunday morning.

But I will talk about Jim with my son as he lived life the way it should be lived.

And I can only hope my son does the same.

I wrote these words Sunday morning with a heavy heart.

I never got to say goodbye to my mentor, friend, colleague, etc.

With all the memories I have of my dear friends, I can't recall the last time I had a discussion with Jim.

For some reason, my mind is drawing a blank.

Upon hearing the news of Jim's passing, I immediately took to the phone to put together a story regarding this wonderful man.

The conversations were truly inspiring.

Everyone I spoke with Sunday morning basically said the same thing.

"He was a really, really nice man."

"He was very kind, probably the most civic-minded person in Brazil and Clay County ..."

"He was a good friend ... This is a sad loss for Clay County."

"He was such a nice man. He'll certainly be missed in the community."

"He would help anybody. You couldn't ask for a nicer guy to work with."

"Jim lived and breathed Clay County."

He was my mentor.

He was my friend.

Words can't express the admiration and respect I have for Jim.

You helped mold my young career.

I can't explain how grateful I am to have known you.