How do you honor 80 years… show gratitude… express sorrow… for someone who has given, and given, and given back to you and your family and your life for 20 years?
One of my first memories of Jim is the FIRST time he corrected me. One winter Saturday I said to someone on the air “you have foxtail” and he pulled me aside on Monday morning and said “that’s actually hair barley, because foxtail doesn’t grow in the winter time, it grows in the summer.” He always wanted to make sure the information given out was accurate. He was right, of course. He hated to hear me say it, but I said it often: he had been doing this as long as I had been alive.
I had opportunities to teach professional certification classes under his guidance, thankfully using his scripts, handouts, and overheads. Though I teased him about his collection of ‘groupies’ who attended his seminars year after year to hear exactly the same information, his discipline and structure in presenting a lot of information accurately and within a fixed amount of time was a lesson I would probably have never learned anywhere else.
Jim Sais and I have done Garden Talk for the past 12 years, and it was a pleasure to have him as my sidekick; he was the mellow to my eccentric. He was calm and cool, and I was too much coffee with my tongue in backwards. I have no reason to doubt that he is the author of the term “only fools and foreigners predict the weather in Albuquerque”, and I’m sure he enjoyed my dismal fail this year when I was SO sure we wouldn’t have another frost… and we did. And I’m no foreigner.
I started introducing Jim at his seminars back when we both worked at Rowlands, and was really honored to just be the Ed McMahon to his Johnny Carson. He has conducted his seminars at Jericho Nursery since day one, 12 years ago. Two classes a day, January through March, every other weekend, starting in a drafty garage, and his fans and followers came in waves and kept on coming every year. The crowd grew to 50 people and I was happy to stand in his shadow and learn. He even let me help pass around herbs and do other things that took just a little bit of horticultural knowledge.
After each seminar, and the questions from the class, when the sound system and overhead projector were turned off and cooling down, Jim would hang around until the last person in line asked the most tedious question, and in doing so he defined the words “available”, “patient”, “courteous”, “attentive”, “polite”, and so many more that so many of us could be so much better at.
It wasn’t part of the script. It was who he was.
Services will be held at Asbury United Methodist Church on Tuesday, May 30th. Click here for Jim's obituary.