Thursday, May 28, 2009

Love of my life


My husband died today (May 28) and one of his friends asked me to post this painting I did of him a number of years ago... I am completely heartbroken.

Jacks Betts of the Charlotte Observer made some nice comments about Jim on his blog. Thanks Jack. Another environmental advocacy group working to keep a cement plant from polluting posted this blog. Thanks to you too.
If you knew Jim and want to comment with stories about your experiences with him, that would be wonderful. To do so, click on "Comments" below. Thank you.

Here's a link to Jim's obituary.

June 12 UPDATE: The celebration of Jim's life will be at our house in Morehead City, NC on June 20 from 4-6pm. It will be an open, informal, outdoor celebration. A few friends and family will share a few words about Jim at the beginning. Please join us.

Thanks to all of you who have shared stories in your comments below - they are so very precious to me.

63 comments:

Anonymous said...

Glad you posted this, it is beautiful. -Katie

Anonymous said...

Please accept my most heartfelt condolences.

Marge Anders L said...

Hi Sally - We haven't met before, but I was a colleague of Jim's. I am so unbelievably sorry for your loss. I am thinking of you in this horrific time.
-Marge

Anonymous said...

Dear Sally--I'm afraid I know all too well what you're going through these days, since I suddenly lost my son in March. Please know that our thoughts and prayers are with you. I will write you in the quieter weeks that lie ahead. Love, Jan DeBlieu, NCCF

anne cunningham said...

Sally.........I'm an artist friend of Mandy's and lost my husband to prostate cancer nearly 2 years ago.........devastating but at least we had time to prepare. I can't imagine dealing with the shock of a sudden loss. My heart goes out to you! May you find peace in the future! Anne

Camilla said...

Sally,
What a beautiful painting of your incomparable husband. Everyone who cares about the coast joins you in mourning Jim's tragic death. He was the kindest man, with a deep, quiet, intelligence. We made the rounds together in Raleigh one Lobby Day a while back--he was so clearly admired by everyone there, both legislators and staff.
All warm thoughts to you.
Camilla

Michelle said...

Hi Sally -- We met briefly outside the Bogue Banks library after Jim and I had participated in a stakeholder meeting...I've been a colleague of Jim's for over ten years, and will miss the quiet humor and calm reasoning he brought to everything he did. My heart absolutely breaks for you. You will be in my thoughts and prayers during the time ahead. -- michelle duval

Lisa Schell said...

Hi Sally,
We met at one of your shows in Beaufort. My agency has been the beneficiary of your husband's dedication, diligence and determination in his efforts to protect our coastal environment. I always admired his work and his kindness and his friendship. This is a tremendous loss. Know you are in our thoughts and prayers.

Anonymous said...

Dear Sally,
The portrait is so Jim...and your passion for your work shines through in it. Please accept my sincere sympathy at this sad time. We who love and care about the coast have lost a quiet, true and faithful environmental advocate. I have known Jim for many, many years and will miss him.
With sympathy-
Ms. "Mike" Gantt
Retired from U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Anonymous said...

Sally, I am so sorry for the loss of your loving husband and for the loss of a dear friend to me. My family and I will pray that you are given strength. I hope you find some comfort in knowing Jim was loved and respected by many. The coast has truly lost a friend. If my family can help in any way, please call. Jess Hawkins

Editaur said...

Sally: I'm one of Edgar's coworkers (the second Margaret) and we haven't met. I've known Jim for a couple of years, dating to my days as a reporter at the General Assembly. I was fortunate that he 'targeted' me as a member of the press corps to cultivate - I really needed his help understanding what the heck was going on! When I made the transition to the activist side, he was one of the first I told because I was pleased to be working with people like him. Such a generous, good-natured and bright person - my heart goes out to you in your loss, and I hope the love and respect of Jim's numerous friends gives you strength. MAL

Toni said...

Dear Sally,

I worked with your husband as he was part of the Southeast Coastal Climate Network. It was a pleasure to work with him - as you know he was so passionate about the work and I am so sadden by losing Jim. My heart goes out to you and your family. -Toni Reale

Anonymous said...

There is a hole in the world.

Betty

Anonymous said...

Sally -thinking of you and your sweet brave heart..every single moment. love you so much....
-Pat

Allie said...

Sally, I worked with Jim on Stop Titan and want you to know how very, very sorry I am for your loss. Jim was one of the most extraordinary people I’ve ever known. I attended a series of very important but excrutiating meetings in a group with Jim and two other Stop Titan folks, and only Jim’s cool as a cucumber temperment kept them even remotely on track. Every meeting was the same (awful) but Jim was our rock. (Admittedly, after the meetings he couldn’t get to the nearest bar fast enough.) Those wretched meetings were truly a bonding experience for the four of us. And I won’t even go into the mortifying time that I myopically mistook him (in a suit) for the maitre d’ of some dive in Raleigh where we were meeting for breakfast at 8:00 am before a hearing. He thought it was hilarious that I thought the dive would have a maitre d’ and couldn’t have cared less that I thought he was a maitre d’. He was so smart and so funny and altogether just wonderful.

I was also part of the group with Jim at the Stop Titan meeting last Wednesday – his last day -- and I sat beside him. He was always in a good mood, but I thought that day that he seemed especially happy. He was the first one there but unwrapped & started eating his bagel only after everybody arrived and the meeting started. His very close friend Mike Giles sarcastically suggested that he could have eaten the bagel before the meeting, but Jim nonchalantly replied that that would have been rude, leaving Mike speechless. It was very funny. Later Jim studied every sandwich on the lunch sandwich tray at some length (without touching anything, of course) before he made his decision, while we all watched him, waiting to see what he would decide on. Most of the meeting was him telling us what was going on & what he was going to do and what we needed to do. We took his word as the gospel, and if he said we should do something, we figured out how to do whatever it was. He was the brain and the heart of our group. Also throughout the meeting, he kept up a running commentary on I don’t even remember what, and was extremely entertaining. I was very glad I was sitting next to him so I didn’t miss anything. At one point I whispered to him “you’re in rare form today, aren't you?” and he said “yup”. He was happy, silly & rambunctious that last day and that’s a great comfort to me.

Professionally, Jim was in a universe of his own. I spent five days over two months lobbying with him (long after the unfortunate maitre d’ incident) and learned a tremendous amount from him. I will forever be convinced that Jim knew everything and everybody at the legislature. It seemed to me that the legislators all liked AND trusted Jim, a combination that is almost unheard of. But they really did trust Jim, it was obvious. And of course they liked him – everybody liked Jim. A representative told me yesterday that Jim was the only lobbyist she ever totally trusted and that he taught her most of what she knows about getting legislation passed and about coastal issues. I am glad you are going to have a celebration of Jim’s life so that you can hear for yourself some of the wonderful things his many, many friends have to say about him.

I hope that in this dreadful time you are able to remember the good times and fun you and Jim had together. Especially remember that you made him very happy and that he was extremely proud of you. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Hugs to you,

Allie

David Forster said...

Sally thank you for calling, I'm so sorry for your loss.
I met Jim in 1975 in Gettysburg PA when I landed there after college. Jim was bar tending at Wolfe's Pub and I took a job as the night cook. We both had a fondness for great imported beers and as Jim had control of the bar we developed a barter system. He often had strip steaks on the Sunday night shift. He ate well. We were very close friends from 1975 to 1981 and then drifted apart as we both married and moved out of the area. So many events, trips, experiences we shared as two single guys. Allow me to provide you one that, as friends of Jim, you can relate to.
During a canoeing trip in the Adirondacks and onto hiking in the Presidential Range (Mtn. Washington etc.) we were in Jim's car and as it got to be a hot day we turned on the AC. I put up the windows. Jim put them down (with the AC running). I looked at him and was again reminded of how he was such a social rebel. He just smiled and chuckled at me.
We had intriguing coversations about life including religion. Jim studied religion at Gettysburg College. We both got wrapped up in the writings of a guy named Carlos Castaneda (if your not familiar with Castaneda, remember this was the 70s). Contained in Castaneda's teaching was the concept that a strong persons energy, force, being, will remain even after leaving our most common way of seeing this life. As a Unitarian Universalist I'm sure I will feel Jim's presence again some time in my life.
My best wishes to all that new and loved Jim. He will fondly remembered.
David Forster, Harrisburg PA

Crystal Watters said...

Sally,
I pray that God will lift you up in this life changing moment. The painting of Jim is beautiful and a true testament of your love for him. I bought a painting from you 2 years ago and love and appreciate your work. God bless.
Crystal

danmanley2299 said...

I am sorry for your loss. In a very short time Jim became my colleague, my teacher, and moreover; my friend. He will be greatly missed by all that knew him. The world is a better place because of him. Thanks for sharing him with us.
Dan C.

Deb said...

Hi Sally,

Your artwork is a beautiful tribute to such a wonderful person. I was a colleague of Jim's at NCCF several years ago, and I will always remember his wonderful sense of humor, sharp intellect and amazing way with people. Working with him was both inspiring and humbling, and it was my pleasure to continue our professional relationship when he came to Duke to interview new Duke interns (the way I first came to NCCF) each February. His passion inspired mine and contributed to the path that I'm on today.

Please accept my most heartfelt condolences and wishes for peace and comfort in this most difficult time.
-Deb Wojcik

Pat Birkenshaw said...

Jim hired me as his Program Analyst when he was in Governor Bob Casey's office as the Governor's Advisor on Food and Nutrition Programs, in Harrisburg in 1987. He taught me everything he knew about anti-hunger advocacy which remained the driving force and backbone in my career as State Director of Child Nutrition Programs in Pennsylvania. He was an extraordinary mentor, colleague and friend, so smart, appropriately tenacious, and, yes, funny. Lives were made better by Jim's knowledge and presence.

Sally, I am so sorry. Thinking of you a lot.

Pat Birkenshaw
Hershey, PA

Anonymous said...

Sally: Although we have never met I feel like I know you through my friendship with Jim. As a co-worker of Jim's, his calm and steadfast manner that was so contradictory to the real Jim underneath (the rebel we all love!) is why I think eveyone loved him so much and why he and I quickly became friends.

Working on issues at the NCCF, Jim was the guide for our advocacy work and we all looked to him for strategy and leadership, but what was as important was his sense of humor, his kind demeanor and his skill at putting folks in their place all the while smiling with a twinkle in his eyes.

He spoke often of you on our daily early morning phone strategy call on the Titan issues (weekdays and even some weekends while ya'll were frequently on the road together), which became a normal start of my day. Those calls were business but we both usually ended up laughing about some joke we would share or a personal take on the preceding days activities or person we had met with in Raleigh. The day usually ended with Jim's evening phone call which always started out by Jim saying "Hey you old hound dog whatcha up to"?

Some people have the honor to meet a person of Jim's caliber in their life and the really lucky ones get to work or play with that person...but the really lucky ones are blessed and privileged to be able to call Jim a trusted friend.

I hope all the memories and love that you two shared will help you in this most difficult time.

All I can say is this "ole hound dog" will miss Jim's friendship, his wise and gentle counsel - and most of all his unbelievable outlook on life and what is truly important-Mike Giles

foodsafetyweb@gmail.com said...

Sally,

I know you've lost not only a husband, but also your best friend and most ardent supporter. I can't imagine what that is like. You are in both Andy and my thoughts.

Cindy Roberts

Kay said...

Sally, I feel joy and appreciation for the wonderful times I spent with Jim. He is a special soul. Thanks for bringing him into our family. I look forward to seeing you next week. Love, Kay

Sue Anger Barnett said...

Jim could always make you laugh. When Sally and Jim returned home from Europe one year, I caught Jim on the phone and asked him about the trip.
Jim said, “Oh, it was great! We were in Belgium and we found this great restaurant and then later that afternoon we found this bar and they had this unbelievable beer! And the chocolate was great!!!”
“Well, didn’t you get to see any museums or did you love the architecture?”
“Oh, yeah the buildings, but then we went to France and Sally knew about these little restaurants tucked away in the side streets. And then we took some food back to the hotel and we ate it that night. . .”
For such a trim man, that man really loved his food!

So raise a glass of Chimay beer (red label only) to Jim and Sal!

Kathleen Anger said...

Some Facts about Jim Stephenson (and Why I Think They are True Facts [Redundancy Intended]) (These facts are also about his love, Sally Anger.)
1) Jim Went Way Beyond the Superficial
The evidence for this true fact is the story of Jim and Sally’s first date. (I’m not really sure it was the first date, but close.) Jim and Sally went to a restaurant/bar and were seated at a booth that was raised a few inches above the aisle. Later Sally needed to go to the restroom, forgot about the step down, and fell. Jokes were told about how Sally really fell for Jim… But a klutzy incident did not cloud Jim’s picture of a wonderful woman.
2) Jim Was Warm and Open
The first time I met Jim (before Jim and Sally were married), I was in Washington DC for a reason I’ve long forgotten. Either Sally and Jim drove down from Pennsylvania to have some time with me or they were already in DC for some reason.
But we had planned a meeting there. Sally jumped out of the car and met me at the appointed place (one of the museums?), while Jim parked the car. Then Jim came to the appointed place, Sally introduced us, and Jim stepped forward to give me a hug.
It was clear, now, that Jim and Sally were in love. And Jim was being warm and open to someone in Sally’s life.
3) Jim Was Playful
During that same Washington DC visit, Jim and Sally were full of love, life, enthusiasm, fun. They played hide-n-go-seek in the museums, with each hiding behind an exhibit or display, then jumping out at the other. They smiled, told jokes, laughed, held hands. It was a joy to see their playful love.
For the rest of the 20 or so years that I knew Jim, I saw him time and again draw upon his sense of humor to deal with the important issues of day and to add some fun to the everyday life of his loved ones.
4) Jim Was Supportive
Jim and Sally’s wedding vows included a promise to help each other reach their full potential. Both Sally and Jim fulfilled their promise. When Jim’s father died, Sally supported him in taking an extended time period off work to settle his parents’ estate. When Sally became more and more interested in art, Jim supported her in taking art classes and then in working on her art full-time.
5) Jim was a Partner
Jim and Sally made their decisions together. They worked at fulfilling their wedding vow—to help the other reach their full potential. They decided their living places and working places in ways to meet the needs of both as much as possible. They chose their recreation to fit with the fulfillment of both.
6) Jim was Dedicated
Jim was dedicated to doing his best to make this world better. He worked diligently in his jobs to find political solutions to big problems. He was also dedicated to his family.

If life were fair, Jim and Sally would have each other’s love, partnership, and support for many more years. If life were fair, Jim would continue to lead us toward better environmental solutions. I mourn Jim’s loss to our family and our world.
Kathleen Anger

tanc said...

Hi Sally,
I had the great pleasure of collaborating with Jim and the Coastal Federation for the past 8 years based on our shared love of the NC coast. He was an important and effective figure in the community and we will miss him personally and professionally. I join you in celebrating him!
Tancred Miller

Anonymous said...

Sally, and everyone else who knew and loved Jim ...

While I can't claim to be a longtime friend, I have worked closely with Jim on the groin issue these past two years. His knowledge was so incredible on the history of conservation and the legislative machine we have to work in. But what most struck me was his level-headedness, his humor, and his warmth. Just a few weeks ago at the end of our coastal evening in Chapel Hill, we joked and he gave the best, most playful hug. I know he was a theology major in college, so I hope he and you won't mind me sharing a most important quote that has helped me through some losses:

"I pray to the birds because I believe they will carry the messages of my heart upward. I pray to them because I believe in their existence, the way their songs begin and end each day -- the invocations and benedictions of Earth. I pray to the birds because they remind me of what I love rather than what I fear. And at the end of my prayer, they teach me how to listen." From Refuge, by Terry Tempest Williams.

Jim also seemed to operate out of love rather than fear and knew how to listen, deeply. He is and will be missed so.

Chris Canfield (Audubon NC Exec Dir)

Paul Wilms said...

As with everyone else, I was shocked and truly saddened by the terrible news of Jim's untimely death. I knew and respected Jim for many years. His knowledge, dedication, professionalism, and good humor made working with him a delight. We will all miss him, but his environmental legacy will live on, and I hope that we will all recommit ourselves to the task of continuing the important work to which he was so devoted.

My prayers and condolences go to you, Sally, to his extended family, and to his many friends and co-workers.

Anonymous said...

Dear Sally, I am so very sorry for your loss. I worked with Jim for many years on climate issues and always appreciated his gentle demeanor and thoughtful approach to our challenging issues. I just posted this notice to the members of our Southeast Coastal Climate Network. From those of us at SACE, please accept our deepest condolences. Jim was a wonderful man. Hugs, Ulla Reeves,
Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

laura ellen said...

I didn't know Jim very well, but he was always willing to talk to me (I interned this summer and last with oranizations in Raleigh). I remember last summer, I mentioned that he must be upset that so much go stripped from one of his bills. He grinned at me and turned over the paper placemat and drew a manic drawing, intended to show me that what had been "lost" had always been icing, a distraction from the real core of the bill, which HAD gotten passed. I remember this not so much because of the bill or the lesson, but because someone so busy and with so much on his plate would take twenty minutes at lunch to draw me a picture so I could understand.

He'll be greatly missed.

Bill Donovan said...

Sally,

My hearfelt thoughts go out to you during this dreadful time in your life. My name is Bill and I live in the back apartment of the house where Jim and Edgar were staying. I was devestated to learn of this tragedy. It is always hardest on the ones left behind and who loved them the most. I hope that you find solice in the love that you shared and it gives you comfort in the days that lie ahead. I met you once when you were returning the garbage cans for the apartment on Bloodworth and you had come up for ARTEXPLOSURE. You were stunning and sweet and I though how wonderful is she! You loved Jim and I hope the love you shared becoms the thing in life you are proudest of. May you rest, don't forget to eat and take care of you. You know that is what Jim would want. If I can be of any help or if youneed anything locally please don't hesitate to email me at wcdonovanjr@hotmail.com or my cell is 919-815-8065. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers and in Jim's honor I moved the Titan banner to the front of the yard in his honor.
Please take care and you are in my thoughts and prayers.

Anonymous said...

Dear Sally,
It is so wonderful to read all of these special words about Jim. I especially like reading about your early times together, since I did not know either of you then. Unfortunately the height of our joys (your wonderful times together) is matched by the depth of our sorrows... Even though the amount of time we've spent with Jim has been short, we know the kindness and gentleness of him. Our hearts go out to you ...
Karen and Jerry

Martina said...

Sally,

We met briefly last summer when I was interning with the Coastal Federation. You were kind enough to show me around your home and the beautiful art displayed there. I remember the picture of Jim drinking his favorite Belgian beer in Bruges.

I can only echo the previous posts on Jim's dedication to his work, his incredible sense of humor, and his calm, kind manner. I have had only a few real mentors in my life, and he was undoubtedly one of them. As I start down my new career path, I will never forget all I learned from him, and I will try and honor his legacy as best I can. I'm thinking of you and wish you peace.
Martina McPherson

jessicakester said...

Hi Sally,
I worked with Jim several years ago at NCCF and send my heartfelt condolences from the midwest. Years ago, you all gave me a true friend - a one-eyed kitten, that I named Harper. After you all found the abandoned kittens, Jim came to work with stories of Harper and his ragged siblings. I was easily convinced that I should take him home and after many vet bills to fix his wounded eye, Harper became part of my family. Jim was right, the vet bills were completely worth it. Jim's kind and caring ways were contagious and I'm thankful that our paths crossed.

You will be in my thoughts.
Jessica Kester

Sally Anger said...

Jessica -

Jim loved that one-eyed kitten, but is very allergic to cats so we couldn't keep him. He was so happy you adopted him.

He never told you this because he wanted you to choose your own name for your cat, but he had named that one-eyed bruiser "Kitty Hook." I'd always thought that was so clever, and have always wanted to tell, and don't think he'd mind now.

Anonymous said...

Sally, I was shocked to read about Jim's passing this morning. All of his old Harrisburg friends miss him and hoped to see you both again.

Strangely, I just woke up from a dream about wearing some old cords that I haven't been able to fit into for about 20 years, and I remembered a surprise party we had for Jim in about 1984, where we all wore cords and plaid shirts, his uniform at the time. He was very amused, of course.

I feel like a piece of me has passed, too.

Love,
Susan Reider

Ted Wilgis said...

Dear Sally,

Melissa and I send you all our thoughts, prayers and love. Jim is a true friend and was an incredible advocate. I loved spending time with you and him, and working with him on oysters. His humour, pragmatism and support were amazing. I always love telling the story of Jim's practical joke with me and lighthouses. I gave Jim a hard time about a pillow he carried into Howard's Pub in Ocracoke. He quietly took my ribbing, and then proceeded to transform every aspect of my life into a light house reference: screen saver, key chain, coffe mug, licencse plate, photos of me and a lighthouse all over the office and on and on. I quickly learned of Jim's humour and doggedness. My thoughts of Jim, and you and he together will always bring a smile to my face and a sense of love.

Take care - Ted and Melissa Wilgis

Anonymous said...

Sally, I was so so shocked to hear about your husband. I am so sorry of you loss. It is so evident you loved him so much. Wish there was something I could do for you. Just let me know if I can. I used to clean your house at Marshallberg. Charlotte Hardy

Tim Whelan said...

Dear Sally: I am deeply saddened by Jim's passing. A bright light has been extinguished in our world. Jim was a man of deep convictions, but more importantly, he was a man of action. He did not let the injustices of this world stand without a challenge. My life was made richer by having known and worked with Jim to make our community better. His efforts to improve the food security for the poor and disadvantaged of Pennsylvania are legendary. His work may have been taken up by others, but he set the standards we all try to meet and achieve. I will keep you and your family in my thoughts. With deepest sympathy, Tim Whelan

Anonymous said...

Dear Sally,

I'm so sorry for your loss.

Anna

Sandi Shepherd said...

Dearest Sal:

I was so sad to hear of Jim’s passing. You two have always been an inspiration to me—individually and as a couple.

When I was at Penn State in the 80’s, Jim was already working with the Governor so we didn’t see much of him. I was impressed with his dedication and hard work to establish nutrition programs, but I did not have the pleasure of getting to know him until later--when he accompanied you to the annual SNE (Society for Nutrition Education) conference. It was always such a joy to see him. For those who were not there, I have a story to share about Jim; one you may not know.

Each year, SNE met in a different city. While we spent the day in seminars at the conference, Jim spent his time searching the host city for the best place to meet one night after hours. No matter where he took us, in whatever city, there was always good imported beer, music, and a dance floor. I looked forward to that all year, and so did a lot of other folks. It became a tradition.

Over the years, word got around and other conference-goers joined us. Jim would find a good spot, we’d set a night and post it on the conference bulletin board. Eventually (1997), he became the unofficial Club Scout for an unofficial Division in SNE. The unofficial Division was called NEWD (Nutrition Educators Who Dance). Sally was the unofficial Prez and I was the unofficial Vice Prez.

Within a few short years, NEWD was added to the conference schedule and announced from the podium during plenary sessions. It was still unofficial, but definitely had a life of its own by then, and still does.

Were it not for Jim, NEWD would’ve never been founded.

I know that NEWD was just a tiny bit of Jim’s life and that he is mostly known for far more important contributions to society. Still, I will always remember him as the hero of NEWD, the perfect match for Sally, a wonderful person and one who left the world a far better place than he found it. I miss him already.

For you, Sally, I cannot find the words so I will just pass on this bit of wisdom that has comforted me in the past and does so now. I apologize, in advance, for not knowing the source, but it goes something like this:

Life is a candle whose light is put out only because dawn has arrived.

Sandi

manley fuller said...

Dear Sally , Carolyn told me yesterday , i am so sorry about Jim's untimely passing .My best to you always.Manley

Anonymous said...

Dear Sally,

I wanted you to know that Jim was honored at the national River Rally in Baltimore this past weekend as one of the fallen heroes who did so much to protect our waters. Dean Naujaks,Yadkin Riverkeeper, was presented the 2009 River Hero award,and dedicated it to Jim's memory as well.
His efforts were important to all of us that fight for clean water, and he will be remembered always. We have lost a valiant warrior.

I will miss him for the wonderful person he was as well, and glad for the memory of Cape Lookout with both of you.

with love,

Elaine Chiosso
Haw Riverkeeper

Barbara and Dean said...

Dear Sally,

We are still trying to come to terms with our shock and extreme sadness about Jim’s passing. It just makes no sense and is such a loss for everyone, especially you. Jim was a kind hearted, soft spoken, optimistic, funny and caring guy. He never forgot to ask about our families and how we were doing and was happy to share about his work which was so meaningful to him. Mostly, we will always think of how happy Jim was being your partner….sharing in good Belgian beer, your dogs, your success as an artist, taking care of both of your parents and just living a good life together. You are lucky to have had such a life together, cut all too short. We are thinking of you, especially at this incredibly difficult time, and sending love.

Barbara, Dean, Arielle and Max

Anonymous said...

Dear Sally,
Please know that you are in many hearts in Pennsylvania at this sad time. Jim left such a legacy here. I hope you will find some consolation and pleasure in knowing that many of us have continued to work through the years with the PA Hunger Action Center, of which he was a founder. He will be remembered.
Colleen McCann

stuart said...

My thoughts at prayers go out to you and your family. I met Jim randomly to sell him some concert tickets and we ended up talking for about an hour. He was such a friendly and open person who was just great to talk to. I had never heard of the NC Coastal Federation until then, but I joined the next day.
Stuart

Tracy Skrabal said...

Early Saturday morning, I was stopped at the raised causeway bridge to Wrightsville Beach, as do thousands of other drivers each day. While we wait for the boats to pass by, we look at a rather unnatural line of palm trees, which are (thankfully) surrounded by lovely, haphazardly flowering wildflowers. Most folks don’t know that these flowers are there because of Jim. A few years back, DOT unknowingly landscaped this area with oyster shells, at a time when efforts to recycle oyster shells for reef restoration were ramping up, and shells were becoming increasingly scarce. Faced with some resistance to have these shells removed, we asked Jim for guidance, and within a week, the shells were removed. In addition, Jim facilitated the passage of legislation prohibiting state agencies from utilizing oyster shells for landscaping, and adoption of laws that make it illegal to send oyster shells to landfills and create financial incentives for businesses that recycle oyster shells. In an arena where the environment does not always win, we enjoyed this victory immensely. These flowers bring me comfort and break my heart.

Today, Mike Giles and I went to Raleigh to call on legislators, legislative staff and other conservationists. Every person we spoke with expressed profound sorrow at Jim’s passing, and praised Jim’s calm, knowledgeable presence in the halls of the legislature, where controlled chaos is the norm, and emotions often run high. Many shared stories of Jim’s ability to find humor in the most exasperating and bleak circumstances.

I will cherish the fact that Jim only liked to come to Wilmington for meetings on the days when Kohl’s Custards had his prefered flavor of the day. And although I am grateful for my 10 years of adventures with Jim, I will so miss one of my favorite people in the world. Sally-Steve, Ryan, Leah and I hold you in our hearts and prayers each day. Tracy

Miller Campaign 06 said...

Sally, I can't even imagine how hard it is for you. I think about you a lot-- every day. I had several chances to observe Jim's fine work on environmental issues, but my favorite memory is when he went with a group of us on the White Oak River for fun. I got into a mess of fire ants while crossing a downed tree with the canoe-- racking up 50+ bites. When we got to the end of our trip, I was scratching and fuming and just a bit upset. He was there to help pull our canoe out, and when he heard what happened, he LAUGHED! Then he handed me a bottle of some kind of insect bite reliever. I still see his face laughing at my self-important minor disaster. Now I laugh when I tell the story about doing the fire-ant dance on the banks of the White Oak.

Anonymous said...

Sally, I am so sorry for your loss. I can't begin to imagine the pain you're in. It appears that you and Jim have a strong network in North Carolina that is supporting you now. We can't do much from Pennsylvania right now except wish you well.

But at some point in the future, I'd like to work with Jim's other friends in Pennsylvania to organize an event up here in his memory. Of course, we'll do whatever you think best. Just let me know at some point if you'd like me to do something.

Susan Reider

Anonymous said...

Sally, Receiving Jim's email "alerts" with vital information to which one could respond to quickly and easily gave me great satisfaction in being able to do something to protect the coastal environment I have enjoyed for so long. His was a life well-lived and well-loved, and one that will be truly missed. May you find peace and solace in all you shared. Love, Candy

Sally Anger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sally Anger said...

(Oops. Still getting the hang of the blog, and deleted my comment above when I tried to move it to a new spot).

Thanks to all of you who have posted so far - these stories are a tremendous comfort. They help to show the many sides of Jim...

Anonymous said...

Sally,
I was and am so sorry for your and our loss of Jim. He was a great advocate, which was how I knew him, and a great friend or foe depending on the issue at hand -- but always one that could be trusted and honest in all that he did. I liked Jim.

Paul Crissman

Anne Terry Swick said...

Jim was a good friend during the mid 70's in Gettysburg, PA. He always had a great love of life and enjoyed foreign beer, a good cigar (yuk), and a good laugh. Although I haven't been in touch for years, I'm glad to hear that he had a loving wife and was active in coastal conservation. Your painting of Jim captured his spirit. I'm sorry for your loss. He will be missed by many.

Tim Kana said...

I was very saddened to hear of Jim's death. While we disagreed on an approach to saving beaches, I always found Jim willing to discuss the issues surrounding beach nourishment in a professional manner. His advocacy helped us do a better job and seek ways to minimize environmental impacts. Please accept my sincere condolences.

Anonymous said...

Dear Sally,
I'm so sad. For you and for all of us who will/do miss Jim. His kind and thoughtful ways. The depth and breadth of his knowledge. His caring and inquiring mind. His drive to put his stamp on the world -- to make it a better place than he found it. I thank Jim for helping me get my feet wet when I began anti-hunger work in Pittsburgh in the early 80's, when he was founder and director of PA Coalition on Food and Nutrition in Harrisburg. I'm so thankful John and I were able to visit with you guys in North Carolina in your lovely home with foxes in the backyard, dolphins in the bay (which I tried to catch), and that old, incontinent dog (or was it a cat?) that you didn't want to put down. And your beautiful artwork, Sally. I cherish that memory and joy in having known Jim. I know you will carry on your wonderful work, as Jim would have wanted you to. Love Joni Rabinowitz


Joni Rabinowitz, Co-Director
Just Harvest
16 Terminal Way
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
412-431-8960 fax 412-431-8966
www.justharvest.org

Anonymous said...

Sally, I hold you in a hug every time I pass your lovely Gloucester house and I so miss my buddy Jim. I loved getting sneak previews of your latest paintings, including an early one of Jim. I remember getting called over to the sweetest scene as you two ate pasta and drank wine on your sun-porch. I loved that you watched our fireworks each New Years Eve through the trees from your upstairs room. Jim was a true mentor through my campaign, and really through much of my foray into fish politics. But our best time together was when he was president of the Gloucester Community Club and I got suckered into being his VP. That infamous Saturday morning - we picked up 250 chicken halves for the BBQ and to our horror realized they were frozen hard as rocks! With his unfailing sense of humor, and with you laughing and willing to jump right in, we became the three stooges who pulled off a hair-brained quick-thaw scheme and got those birds in shape! (Although the cooks remember the "shape" of those chickens as rather square...)

Bryan and I are thankful for the friendship and memories with you and Jim - Barbara Garrity-Blake

Sheila Brodnick said...

Sally, you may recall that I worked with Jim at the NCCF for several years. I was so sad to hear of his passing. Jim was one of the best people in the world to work with. I enjoyed his sense of humor and obscure cultural and literary references.

Everyone loved it when he brought in your old black dog, I believe her name was Emma - you know someone is coming from the right place when they are loving and kind with animals.

Our beloved coast has lost a stalwart champion. He will be missed by so many, especially you. He was so proud of your accomplishments.
Sheila Brodnick

Rep. Cullie Tarleton said...

Sally-I want to express to you my deepest sympathy over Jim's death. He came by to see me several times and I was always impressed by his intelligence, his dedication and his gentleness. I was shocked when I heard of his sudden passing. May you feel the love and presence of God. Rep. Cullie Tarleton

Anonymous said...

Sally,as you may recall, Jim "had us at hello" by nominating the City of Chesapeake, Virginia for a Pelican Award in 2006---who ever heard of such a thing! Thus began a great partnership for which the citizens and City of Chesapeake will always be grateful. Defeating the trash moguls was an incredible achievement---along the lines of David and Goliath. To us, one of Jim's strengths was his calm demeanor. He made everyone more confident and he truly loved North Carolina, its people and his work on their behalf. We loved to watch him disarm the opposition with friendship, quiet charm and self confidence. He was never unwilling to listen to everyone and the members of the General Assembly knew his opinions were well considered. We particularly loved his wicked sense of humor, special brand of sarcasm and almost perfect comic timing. For example, he tried to convince us of the efficacy of using the slogan, "Size Matters" as it relates to lobbying against the mega-landfills.
We enjoyed calling him at the end of his day to hear about his latest converts and victories. Often we could hear birds singing as he sat on his porch savoring a cool one. As we stalked him via telephone, he was always chipper and upbeat in the face of overwhelming adversity. He never lost faith and led an army of believers. NCCF please keep up the good work---you have every reason to be proud of your accomplishments. We all said repeatedly, "we love Jim Stepenson". Sally and friends, surely Jim is still watching over you.
Best,
Mary Ann, Jan & Bryan

Anonymous said...

Dear Sally,

I opened the PHAC Newsletter yesterday and learned about Jim's death.

I have not seen either of you for many years (the last time must have been at an SNE meeting), but when our paths crossed, I always felt my spirits raised by the incredible bond of love, devotion, mutual respect and humor that linked the two of you.

The sudden loss of a loving partner is always traumatic, but to lose the physical presence of a person with Jim's energy and love of life must surely be almost unbearable. You have my sincere condolences as you personally mourn the loss of Jim while publicly enabling others to celebrate his short, but amazingly productive life as an advocate for the causes in which we share a belief.

With love and sympathy,

Audrey Maretzki

Anonymous said...

As a friend of Jim's here in Harrisburg, I wanted to pass along to you the nice tribute that Allen Kukovich gave Jim at a recent awards banquet. Allen received an award from the Keystone Research Center on June 11 and concluded his remarks by remembering Jim as a friend and colleague. Many of the people in the room representing unions, state government and social service agencies, were friends of Jim and were touched by his comments.

Even though we couldn't make it to Jim's memorial service, I wanted to let you know that he is in our thoughts, as are you, and that we are saddened by his death.

Best wishes,
Mary Rosenkrans

cindy said...

Sally -
I was stunned to hear just several days ago of Jim's death - such a loss of a life-loving person! I had the chance to share some time with Jim in the Gettysburg days - wonderful memories of longer hair & as shaggier beard at that time, but the same sparkling eyes, great smile, and, I'm sure, wide open laugh. Also remember his love & appreciation of the Upper Adams orchards & countryside, a shaggy, happy, kind of simple-minded dog named Yogi, and a clunky old seldom reliable yellow checker cab he so proudly tooled around in.

It had been far too long since I'd had contact with Jim - so happy that you and he found each other and shared your love and life.

You're in my thoughts & prayers - I'll miss him, as so many, many others will. God's peace.
Cindy