Sunday, February 25, 2007

Thank you, Jim Elder!

Tonight, my friend the late Jim Elder will be inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame. Jim worked on the last day of his life, which is a great gift if you love what you do. I recall saying goodbye in the newsroom that morning, never knowing that it was really goodbye. Life is like that. Jim died walking his dog and collapsed on the grass, which seems pretty tranquil.

Most folks do not realize that Jim was a veteran of World War II. He was in the battle of the Bulge. Jim loved baseball. Couldn’t you tell? He came close to making it into the majors as an umpire. When Jim worked minor league games across the south, sometimes the schedule took him to Havana.

Jim and Bonner and Longfellow worked at the old KARK Channel 4 back in the day. I had the enormous privilege of working with him 15 years, and we had our falling-outs. Jim could be such an erasable cuss. Jim Elder could admit when he was wrong, and that takes a real man.

The Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame will recreate Jim’s radio office, which was really more like a closet. It was full of notebooks full of statistics and lined wall to wall with Jim’s pictures. When he died, people went to stand in that office. I can’t wait to do that one more time.

(Broadcast February 23, 2007)

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