A former boss of mine died a few weeks ago, and things were so hectic at the time that I neglected his passing.
Jim Creech was only 55 years old at the time of his death. He was the owner of the old Scoreboard Liquors, which was part of the dumpy commercial building otherwise famous for housing Cadillac Lanes. The store faced the Federal Building, and when I first began working nights there, the Floyd County Probation Department was located upstairs.
(Last fall, I profiled several of the colorful people from the package store.)
Jim had a daytime sales job and did very well, and the liquor store was supposed to be some means of tax modification with a few bucks on the side, but it seemed to function more often as Jim’s personal playpen.
Jim wasn’t a management guru, and didn’t pretend to be. He failed to keep close enough tabs on some of the people he trusted, but what the hell; it’s more fun to be one of the lads, mischievous, unrepentant and engagingly adolescent, and safe in the knowledge that whatever’s gone wrong today almost certainly will be forgotten in a few years’ time … if not tomorrow.
I don’t know for sure, but perhaps Jim always knew that he would be one of those people who’d have to live quite a lot in far too short a time.
Around the age of 40, he began grappling with painful kidney ailments that eventually led to a transplant, and he recovered the ebullient zest for life that was his defining feature. Although I hadn’t seen him for a couple of years, there’s no doubt in my mind that he exited on terms strictly his own.