Jim, the youngest of three boys, was born in La Mesa California, a suburb of San Diego, where he spent the first 16 years of his life. Sometime in the middle elementary years, his parents divorced and Jim, along with his next older brother, remained with his mother while his father and oldest brother moved away.
Following his freshman year of high school, his mother moved the little family to her original home state of Minnesota. First they lived in Minneapolis and then they moved in with his mother’s parents, in nearby Bloomington, Minnesota.
But before he was able to complete high school there, he was uprooted once more. This time his oldest brother lured their mom to his new home state, with the prospect of better employment opportunities for her. The brother was living in Snohomish, Washington, where he was studying for the ministry. So that is how Jim wound up graduating from Snohomish High School in 1977. He has remained in the area ever since.
Jim next completed a course in retail cashiering at Lake Washington Vocational Tech, but upon graduation, found restaurant work more to his liking and aptitude. For the next 15 1/2 years he worked in restaurants in both Redmond and Kirkland, keeping things behind the scenes working. Prep work, dish washing, and inventory control were all part of his restaurant responsibilities. Evidently he is very good at it.
In 1994 he was hired by WRQ (now merged with and renamed Attachmate) to take responsibility for all seven employee kitchens in their large, Seattle facility. Jim keeps each of them clean, stocked, and functional, in addition to handling mail and other responsibilities as required. He is looking forward to Attachmate’s move from the south Lake Union area to the King Street neighborhood where his commute can be accomplished on just one bus rather than the two it currently takes. (Jim doesn’t drive.)
Though Jim was attracted to music, especially vocal performance, while still a schoolboy, he didn’t actually participate until his high school years…and that in a church youth choir rather than in school. He later began attending church where his older brother had become associate pastor (Englewood Presbyterian) and has continued regularly in their choir for 31 years now.
His introduction to barbershop came in 1989 when a Lake Washington Skippers member, who sang in Jim’s church choir, invited him to a regular rehearsal at Skipper Hall in Kirkland. There was an instant attraction. Jim stepped up to the challenge and soon enough passed the audition, thus becoming a Skipper himself. Ted Chamberlin was directing at the time. Jim became a Northwest Sound member when the two choruses merged in 1991. He has sung with us ever since.
While interviewing Jim for this article, I ventured to ask him if he ever dated.
“Naw…” he said. There was a short pause, and then: “Well, there is this one lady at work…we sometimes have dinner or see a movie, but…”
“Jim! That’s dating!” I exclaimed. He gave me a shy but charming smile.
Hmmm, they say you’ve got to watch out for the quiet ones huh? Jim further surprised me when I asked what other things he might like to do.
“I think singing in a quartet would be fun. I’d like to try that. I’m also interested in directing…I’d like to learn how to do that.”
Saying I was surprised at some of his responses demonstrates my error in not getting to know Jim better, much sooner than I have. That was my loss…but no more.