I was away at a memorial service for a distant relative (by marriage) I only met once. Among the upbeat facts I learned are that Jim was incredibly fond of canoeing in Canada and driving and hanging out there in the outdoors with his wife who preferred kayaking. He went so often that he was practically viewed as a Canadian in heart and spirit. Unforgettably there was a 12-inch, green replica canoe on top of the box that contained his ashes…and we all sang the Canadian national anthem to the moving sounds of a live trumpet player.

So I thought during the service of this man’s unsung athleticism and involvement with sport. He had achievements that were not widely celebrated, though he was so skilled with his hands, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that he built his full-scale canoes himself.

At the reception afterward, I met a friend of Jim’s who owned a DeTomaso Pantera that Jim helped set up between races. Jim knew a lot about engines, I heard. And there was a Volkswagon Beetle that Jim owned and restored and entered in local shows.

Most of us live modest lives that lead to no fame and riches. But we are often able to actively enjoy sport and athletics. Many simply from the couch…and others like Jim thrive in the outdoors. I heard often that he was a gentle and very knowledgeable man. I wish we had lived nearby, so we could have enjoyed knowing each other.

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