Jim died today, at 12:30 a.m., on Presidents' Day, the perfect day for a man who loved history, particularly of the Presidency. Since I prepared this epitaph ahead of time, at his request, I'm able to make this announcement.
Jim didn't want a newspaper obituary. Instead, he asked that I write an epitaph about his love of books. Jim's parents, Harry and Joanne Holstine, were both readers, and Jim learned to read at any early age, reading the sports pages in the newspaper, sharing that love with Harry. He was always so proud that he read the greatest number of books one year for the summer reading program at the Berlin Heights (Ohio) Public Library. And, I always laughed when he told about getting in trouble for an overdue book because he loved it so much, he hid it under his bed.
Jim and I met at the Huron Public Library in 1981, soon after I returned home to be Director of my hometown library. Jim's mother sent him in, saying there was a cute new librarian at the library. And, my children's librarian, Millie Schilman, formally introduced us, saying, "This is Jim Holstine. He's one of our most prolific readers."
Over the next couple years, we talked about books, and when he went to Florida in the winter, I told Millie I missed Jim Holstine because he was the only person who got as excited about the boxes of new books as I did. We went on our first date on May 1, 1983, and married on October 1. Since we met at the Huron Library, we married in the meeting room there, and Jim even played the piano beforehand. My staff tied paperback books to the bumper of the car.
From the very beginning, books were an important part of our lives. Jim often said he didn't think we would have gotten together if we hadn't both been fond of Leo Buscaglia's books, Love and Living, Loving and Learning. When I invited him to speak at the library, Buscaglia sent me the most gracious rejection letter, which is still framed on our wall. We had no idea he had heart problems, and would die soon after writing that note.
I made Jim read Jeffrey Archer's Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less, his favorite book. I never told him Archer was British, and Jim wouldn't read British authors. Ironic that Lee Child became one of his favorite authors years later, but when he first went to see him at the Poisoned Pen, he turned to me and said, "You never told me he was British." And, I said, "You never read the back flap of the book."
Jim loved Florida, and we moved there with my job, first at the Charlotte-Glades Library System, and then the Lee County Library System. He enthusiastically participated in my work there, acting as a volunteer for the Lee County Reading Festival. He was thrilled when he escorted Douglas Brinkley during the festival, and we had the chance to have lunch with Brinkley and Rick Bragg. We picked Sue Grafton up at the airport. And, he had a lengthy conversation with David Morrell, "Rambo's Father."
It was Jim who pushed me to apply for jobs, and spent a great deal of time talking on the phone with my new boss in Glendale, AZ. I think she hired me because she liked him so much. And, he encouraged me every time I worked on my blog, buying me the camera to take pictures of authors, and then a minicam. He always challenged me to be better
I took Jim to meet Brad Meltzer on his birthday. He loved meeting Lee Child, and sharing a cigarette break outside the Poisoned Pen. He met Jeffery Deaver for the first time in the restroom (they didn't shake hands - grin). We even went to see Barack Obama when he was on his book tour, and we had the chance to shake hands, and urge him to run for President. But, it was always books that brought us these opportunities.
Jim never had the chance to read Lee Child's 61 Hours. His illness was so quick that, even though Maggie Griffin, Child's webmaven, graciously sent me an ARC so Jim could get the chance to read one more book, he was never able to read it. Jim loved thrillers, books by Lee Child, James Patterson, Alex Kava, Brad Meltzer. He loved American history and big biographies, and anything about the Kennedys. Now, he'll know the answer to his favorite joke. It's about a man who dies, goes to heaven, and is told by God that he can ask him anything. The man says, "I want to know who really killed President Kennedy," and God answered, "Well, I have a theory about that." Jim's favorite joke, his favorite subject for nonfiction, and his favorite topic for theories. Now, he'll know.
Jim always loved the people I worked with, at Huron, Lee County (particularly at Rutenberg), and, here in Glendale. Someone made the comment that if you knew Lesa, you knew Jim, and, at least in the library, that was usually right. He threw my
50th birthday party with the help of the library staff.
There's one part of Jim's life I wanted to mention, unrelated to books. Jim and I shared a love of sports, and together, we enjoyed them on TV and in person. He loved Duke basketball, baseball, in recent years, the Detroit Tigers, NASCAR, thanks to a dear friend. But, we were both passionate about Ohio State football. My family always knew they could buy Jim gifts that related to Ohio State.
Jim always told people we only got married to read. And, when his father lived with us, he would walk out of his room, find us both reading, and say, "It sure is quiet out here."
Jim, you left it very quiet out here. I'm going to miss sharing books, authors, my blog, and our life. Rest in peace. I love you.
If you want to remember Jim, please donate to your local public library. And, tell them it's in memory of a man who loved books, libraries, and one librarian.