This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Jim Cortese

This was a friend who past away a few days ago. I had worked with him early on in my career as a usability person.

I had been out of touch with him for a few years, especially the last year and a half when he struggled with cancer. But I would see him now and then in passing. I always made it a point to get in his line of sight to say hello. Just knowing Jim and having him acknowledge you with a "hello", or "how are you", made my day.

Jim was a recluse and confident about it. But once confronted with social activity (talking to him in his office or at meetings), he was receptive and jovial.

The early days of my usability career were memories that remind me of being 'carefree'. Our group then, five of us, were in touch with each other and hoping to make differences in our workforce. Jim was a big influence for me for how I would work -- and continue to work -- in this field.

But the one thing I admire about Jim was his casual and relaxed demeanor. He knew what was important in life and he didn't sweat the unimportant stuff. It was obvious that his kids were the center of his life and THAT WAS WHAT WAS IMPORTANT. Work was work and although he was not lackadaisical about his work, he did his job and his expectation was that his contribution would follow through.

I would find out so much more at his memorial. But really, I learned more that he was indeed in love with his family (of course, who isn't?)...but he was and was dearly loved back by his family and his friends. I regret not seeing him in the last few years, but I did it because I was so concerned about his privacy. I had heard that he was self-concious about his previous surgery, which affected his speech, so I respected him enough not to barge into his office and ask him how he was doing. But, the e-mail that I meant to send to tell him how my thoughts were with him was never sent and thus, I'm left with the feeling of leaving myself out of the most important time in his life.

We heard so many different stories from Jim's co-worker, friends, acquaintences, and a fellow doctorate peer and they were all inspiring stories that I know made his beautiful wife and beautiful kids find peace that we experienced something about Jim slightly different than they did. But my friend Julie summed it up best when she said "Isn't it funny that we all heard different stories, but it's the same Jim that we all knew."

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