This afternoon we lost Jim Holland, a man of few words but many talents. Jim was a photographer, a graphics artist, a craftsman, and he loved Fort Smith. He could have worked anywhere, but he chose to stay home and raise his family here. He understood — and helped create “quality of place” before any of the rest of us had a clue it was an economic development concept.
He had a wicked sense of humor and was incredibly humble. I remember the day he pulled me aside on a shoot last August to apologize that he might not be available for a November event. It seems earlier that day he’d been diagnosed with liver bile duct cancer. I didn’t know whether to wring his neck for even being on the shoot, or to just hug him.
Something like 1,000 people get this nasty form of cancer every year. M.D. Anderson gave him a treatment plan.
At Christmas, Jim was rushed to surgery because of a bleeding ulcer — the docs don’t think it was related to the cancer — and Jim later joked that it was just his luck to spend all that money fighting a rare form of cancer, only to be nearly done in by a stomach ulcer.
Mary Jane called me a bit ago. As was his nature, Jim “didn’t want anything” special. I think a few of his more rambunctious friends are planning something in his honor, though. Jim and his family have earned heaps of praise — they’re like Jim, though and just don’t accept it very often.
In honor of Jim, I’ve posted a new banner — Jim took the trolley photo. Of all the photos Jim took of faces during our “Bring It Home” campaign, the image below is is probaby one of my favorites. I think it captures the essence of Jim — and mostly of Fort Smith. Character, integrity, kind, meticulous, rugged, tough, and brassy. With a healthy dose of mischief thrown in — just to keep things interesting.
We’ll know you’ve been here, Jim. Remnants of you surround us.