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RIP Professor Mitch


Chris Eisenhower
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Jim died last night. You might have known him as Professor Mitch. He developed cancer over the past two months or so and was unable to do chemotherapy, and the cancer was extremely aggressive. It all went by very quickly and he was surrounded by friends, family, flowers and cards. He was peaceful and without pain, and went in his own house and in his own room. I only got the text from Dane Michaels about two hours ago. It’s not a shock, since we both shared in this from the beginning and knew it was coming—and yet it is shocking. There’s a strangeness about the finality of losing a friend and realizing that you will not see them again. I’m sure it will sink in the first time I want to call Jim about something, or see that a show is going to be playing that he would have enjoyed going to.

 

Jim and I were going to write his obituary together, but we waited too late and overestimated the time he had left. As a result he didn’t have the energy to tell me what he wanted to say when it came time. I also wanted to drive him around town, where he could tell me about places he had lived and things he had done. Jim was one of the most detail-oriented people I’ve ever met, and had an amazing memory for people. But we couldn’t leave the room, as much as I would have liked to take him outside. So this will have to do, and is off-the-cuff. My apologies if I leave anything or anyone out.

 

It’s not hard to write good things about Jim and the person he was. He was a very generous and genuinely caring man. He was dealt a very difficult hand of cards in life and he managed to overcome some immense obstacles, including severe illness and weight loss. Jim was by no means perfect, and he had a huge regret in his life that involved someone he once loved. This man’s premature death prompted Jim to come out and be truthful about his own life. Jim lost some people in his life and gained some others in the process. He quite often used the phrase: “If they don’t like it, I don’t give a flying fuck. Life is short.” It might not be the exact words, but trust me when I say it’s pretty close. For the most part, Jim was a learner and didn't burn his hand on the stove twice. He doled out advice that was actually quite good. He didn't always listen to it... :)

 

Jim loved my dog, and watched him for me for several months this year while I was gone. When I drove to see Jim this past week and a friend came to answer the door, my dog immediately shot by her and ran to his room. I had to explain that it was okay since the dog knew where he was going. When I got to the room, I realized immediately that Jim didn’t have long. It’s bizarre when you realize how quickly time shoots by, and how profound changes can be in such a short period of time. I was with Jim on New Year’s Day, when I became EOY. We celebrated that morning and I think he mentioned it in a review. Less than a year later I’m writing to tell you that he has died. This doesn’t even begin to touch the myriad of changes that happened in Jim’s life over a period of less than a dozen months.

 

I got to see and know Jim in a different context than most of the people in his life. That time was short, and flew by as I said earlier. He was a very special and unique person who can’t be replaced. I don’t know what else to say, other than he admired and respected many of you—and he was always grateful to have had the opportunity to meet and share a part of your lives with you. You know who you are.

 

Goodbye, Jim.

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A BEAUTIFUL post Chris, & I'm VERY sorry to read this news...

I was fortunate to have spent time with Jim... he was always upbeat & quick with a joke. At one point in time, (when he lost all the weight), I walked right past him, not recognizing him. THIS became a running joke between us at subsequent meetings with him & I looked forward to the good natured ribbing from him about it each time.

This community allows us to build our own family's & we have collectively lost a family member....

I know Dane & Chris were very close to Jim & my condolences go out to both of you..

Rest in peace Prof Mitch!

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Saying goodbye to a friend is never easy, but you did it about as eloquently as I have ever seen it done. I liked the quote that he used to always say, and he is right, "life is short"...I am saddened by your loss Chris. May he rest in peace, and may you find peace in his passing. God bless you.

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I thought about how to go about this response and I have come the conclusion that, although losing Jim was a very sad experience, I would like to highlight just how exemplary he truly was. Jim spent his life education others, (including Chris and I) he was selfless in so many aspects of life, and just as Chris stated-was dealt a tough hand, but he could always find love and compassion for others. Time spent with Jim was often arts and history inspired; those memories will be with me for a long time to come and I look back thankful that Jim cared enough to enrich my life that way.

Death is a natural process, but when it is in this manner we all tend to ask "Why?" and that is where I am right now. I choose to believe that there is a reason and greater good behind all of this, and will continue to look forward and to a positive light despite the questioning and hurt. I could not be more proud than to have been able to call Jim my friend over the last 2 years, I only wish that time could've been longer (selfishly) but I know he is no longer in pain, and with his true love somewhere up in that big blue. Before he slipped away Chris and I were able to be there by his side and brought some beautiful flowers and a card I will share with y'all:

 

You have educated me.

Walked with me.

Talked me off many a ledge.

Seen my worst and my best.

-You have even-

Stood by my side with Detriot law enforcement.

For all that and so much more-THANK YOU for being my FRIEND!!

 

I only wish more gentleman of this forum could've had the chance to meet him.

Jim, (Professor Mitch) you will be loved and missed. May you rest in peace.

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Guest countryboywny

I had the honor of meeting Jim at the DC event. He was a true gentlemen, very dignified with a twinkle in his eye that I'll always remember. Rest in Peace good man, well done.

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I had the pleasure of meeting Jim at the Forum luncheon as well. We did speak on the phone a couple of times prior to that. Since that Forum luncheon, Jim and I would call each other occasionally and catch up. I did get a chance to see him again at the Chicago dinner in July and he was looking good, but that is cancer for you. It can sneak up on you and good one day one down the next. Jim was a nice guy and my life and the world was better place for having Jim in it.

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Guest Starbuck

I was shocked and sorry to read Chris Eisenhower's post. My sympathies to him and to all of the rest of you who were friends of Jim's. I didn't know him personally, but had the pleasure of exchanging a few messages with him soon after I started coming to the Forum last year. Our PMs came about because Jim's signature line was a quote from Christopher Morley, a writer who is not well-remembered anymore, but who was the author of some lovely books of a style that probably wouldn't get published these days--"The Haunted Bookshop" and "Parnassus on Wheels" to name two.

 

Perhaps as we remember Jim today, it would also be worth remembering that signature line--his good advice to the rest of us (with a little assist from Morley):

 

"There are three ingredients in the good life: learning, earning, and yearning." -- Christopher Morley

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Beautiful Words Chris

 

It was such a pleasure to meet Jim at the Chicago Weekend. I remember one morning going down to the hotel lobby for coffee and I saw Jim sitting in the dining room having breakfast. I motioned to see if I could join him. I'm so happy that I was lucky enough to hear about his personal journey in life. He inspired me in so many ways.

 

Rest in Peace Sweet Man

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To Chris and Dane, thanks so much for these moving tributes. I never met Jim, but enjoyed his contributions to this Forum. This is an especially sad day for me, as I lost one of my closest friends who was also a college classmate and one with whom I have shared many adventures. I wish I had been to DC for the events there and also Chicago, but work always seemed to interfere with those dates. So, I add my tears to the rest of yours, and add my prayers for his family and friends. We never know how long we have on this earth, but trust that the time will be well spent and that we will be friends and a blessing to others. So I too say, R.I.P. and may our love for him be a symbol of all that was good that he stood for throughout these years.

DD

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I am so glad I got to meet "Professor Mitch" at the Chicago gathering. He didn't speak NEARLY as much as some others (who shall remain nameless, ahem) :) but listened to everyone and missed nothing. When I mentioned that to another forum member, he replied, "Well, he is an educator."

May this educator learn to listen to everyone and miss nothing half as well as Jim did.

Rest in peace.

T

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I am stunned and truly saddened to learn of Prof Mitch suddenly passing away. I met Jim at the DC Forum meeting in January. He was such a kind soul and he will be missed by many. Chris, Dane, my condolences to you as well, he was a very special part of your lives.

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I never got to meet Jim/Professor Mitch. I knew of him from his occasional posts here (mostly when I was still a lurker), his reviews, and the announcement about his surgery. I'm sorry that his death means I won't have a chance to meet him. Thank you for the moving tribute, Chris, and my condolences to those of you who knew him.

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I had heard lots of great things about "Professor Mitch" from Dane, Chris and others long before I met him. When I did finally get to meet him in DC this past January it was "so you are this Professor Mitch I've been hearing so much about." He was everything they said, one of those people who just at the first meeting you get that special spark and glimmer and smile know he's someone special. I got to see him a few months later in Chicago, again thinking what a pleasure it was but having no idea how short-lived this acquaintance would be. Some people we are privileged to get to spend years or even decades with, but others are a quick flash and then they're gone. I'm sad this could not be the former, but glad to have had the time I did.

 

Many thanks to Chris and Dane for being with him to the end. We're all in this together, and these kinds of friendships mean a lot.

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Perhaps one final lesson all here will learn from Professor Mitch's life: Observation more than books and experience more than persons, are the prime educators. Amos Bronson Alcott

 

I think Jim learned this lesson early and then lived it and then, by example, taught it. He is described herein as an observer and an educator, a man with a quick smile and a quiet demeanor, a man who overcame adversity and most notably he is tearfully recalled as a man who was loved and respected. A dear and true friend.

 

This is a legacy to which we all should aspire.

 

 

My condolences to all of us lessened by his passing.

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Guest countryboywny
Chris, reading your beautiful tribute to Jim makes me wish I'd had the pleasure of meeting him. He was obviously a great guy, and I'm very sorry for your loss.

 

Hugs,

Rob

 

To your point, I only spent a luncheon sitting next to him, and a few brief encounters during the DC weekend.. but the news of his death saddened me greatly. He had that affect on people.

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