Jim McCusker was my friend from the first moment we met back in 1988 as young men trying to forge a career in (at that time) life insurance sales at Mass Mutual. We spent a lot of time together; at the office studying or preparing proposals, on the road making sales calls, or after work unwinding from the day. Through it all, if you were with Jim, there was never a dull moment. Truth be told, we played as hard or harder than we worked, but I will always cherish the laughs and meals we shared, the late nights drinking scotch and playing putt putt in the office, and the many long conversations (OK yes I mostly listened) in which we pondered all manner of problems and opportunities under creation.
Several things immediately struck me when I befriended Jim:
Jim was at all times and in all circumstances, absolutely unflappable. Never at a loss for words, Jim could talk to anyone about anything, and he often would. He never met a stranger. He was inquisitive by nature and genuinely interested in others.
Jim was smart. Really smart. He was without a doubt the greatest thinker I have ever known. Jim never shared with me what his IQ was, but his vast vocabulary was ever expanding, and he literally knew a little something about everything. And if he didn’t know about something, he was such a skilled pontificator that you would never realize it!
Jim and I shared a healthy general disdain for the powers that be and a certain detachment from the standards that supposedly govern our little region of the universe. We soon picked up on that commonality, and I think it was Jim who coined the term “Burgstiner Time” to describe my more European approach to time management.
Finally, and most importantly, Jim had an immense capacity to love. He was a gentle and kind soul, bold yet humble, and always a servant – especially to young people. Jim was a devoted husband, brother and son, but by far his greatest joy was being a Dad.
As his close friend, I was a grateful recipient of the love that overflowed from Jim’s heart, and it was he more so than I who made the consistent effort to stay in touch once our career paths diverged, even when we moved away to Atlanta. Whenever we got together, whether in person or by phone, it was like no time had passed. We delighted in each other’s company and encouraged one another in our struggles.
Like all of us, Jim was not perfect, but he left behind a legacy of love and a willingness to dream that impacted all who were fortunate enough to be loved by him. Jim’s soaring mind and sweet soul were released from the limited confines of his mortal body on March 26, 2014. We all miss him now, but I look forward with great anticipation to being reunited with him in paradise one day, where the answers to the many questions we pondered together will finally be understood.