Letter: Jim Linville was a teacher of light
Routt County lost a really bright light this week in Jim Linville, lifelong educator, mountaineer, hero, environmentalist, world traveler, human communicator and philosopher. Recently, challenges have galloped ahead of our human ability to cope, and not everyone behaved or reacted well. We could really use more Jim Linvilles in these complicated times.
Jim could help those around him learn to persevere through challenges with a smile, to see beauty everywhere, in nature and in each other. He observed, listened; he was kind, he sought to understand. He assumed he had something to learn, and he brought people along. Isn’t that the true definition of a leader?
Once, on a cold and windy day in Mongolia, we had to fix a broken fence at an orphanage with our high school students and hosts. Our tools: bowls for digging, rocks for hammers.
Me: “We’ll never get the kids to do this.”
Jim: “This is going to be fun!”
Being an engineer helped, (he was), and a carpenter (he was that, too), but it was how he went about it with us. We had a ball, made lifelong friends and got that fence built. Language and culture were not a problem.
He worked with groups tackling tamarack on the river systems, helped snowmobilers get along with backcountry skiers, rescued endless lost and injured hunters. He led students up 14ers, “freed our heels and our souls” on telemark skis and guided incredible trips through the wilds of Africa.
He spoke Swahili. Really? His French, algebra and geography classes were challenging but beloved. He modeled perfectly the mission of Steamboat Mountain School, previously Whiteman, where he had a huge role in raising me as a teacher. I knew it was a rare gift to be around him.
I leave you with Jim’s method of quickly integrating a group of people. Picture him lining us up, side by side, holding hands. Then he’d duck under the linked hands of those in the line, weaving in and out, saying, “Don’t let go! Hold on! Trust me!”
We would become impossibly tangled, and after much giggling and silliness, finally … ta da! We were side by side again. How did he do that? My answer, together, with gusto, understanding, trust, empathy, kindness, laughter and, finally, optimism. That’s the secret.
Thank you, Jim Linville. God Bless you on your next grand adventure.
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