Tag Archives: death of a friend


Motor Man and I first met Jim back in the late 1990’s, when a mutual friend introduced us. Jim had been racing hydroplane (race boats) for many years, but had never won a race.  He asked Motor Man to start building his engines.

Motor Man and I began traveling to boat races from southeast Virginia to Maryland to Decatur, Illinois to New Jersey. Jim won many, many races and several championships in his 5-litre boat, E-43, which he named Keen’s Machine. There were a few tense post-race inspections , but no DQ’s (disqualifications). Motor Man does like living on the edge….

And during those years, Jim became more than a customer; he became a friend.  He sat with us at many local short-track (car) races, he came to our shop to work on his engine and/or boat and was there for Open House events we hosted.  He attended PRI (Performance Racing Industry) trade shows with us in Orlando and Indy.

Jim was at our wedding reception in 2002, and following the deaths in recent years of Motor Man’s parents, he visited to pay his respects.

Two weeks ago, Jim suffered a massive stroke and never regained consciousness.

He passed away Saturday morning.

We’re still processing the fact that he’s gone.

And, meanwhile, we’re going through old photos.

At Motor Man’s and my wedding reception. Jim’s crew chief, Joe, on the left, and Jim on the right.

Joe,  Motor Man and me, Jim and his brother, Doug, following a boat race Jim won in Portsmouth, Va.

Jim and Joe at an Open House at our shop. This was 2004, and Jim won a  championship that year.

Relaxing at our shop with a fellow race boat owner.

Dearborn, Michigan for the awards banquet in 2011.

And perhaps my favorite picture of Jim, taken in 2010. He won the high points title  that year.

In our office are several reminders of Jim’s accomplishments in boat racing. He graciously allowed us to display the checkered flag he received for his 2004 World Championship, won in Cambridge, Maryland. (Same flag that’s in the Open House photo above.)

And in 2008, Motor Man had a clock made for Jim to commemorate one of his championships. (We also had one made for us.)

Thanks for all the memories, Jim. We’ll most likely attend more boat races in the future, but they won’t be quite the same.

~These Days Of Mine~





Farewell, Sweet Friend

You may recall that Motor Man and I have dinner every week with two other couples that we met through racing. We’ve done this for well over ten years with very few interruptions.

We’ve shared the ups and downs of life.  Celebrated good things that have happened, supported each other through the not-so-good. We’ve shared jokes, laughed and cried, eaten pizza, spaghetti, subs, and our so-called “Mark salads” and “Colonel’s Pizzas”.

We celebrate birthdays and all the holidays. We’ve become our own little Wednesday night family.


Our “friend family” is included in our “real family” events. This was taken at Motor Man’s parents’ 72nd wedding anniversary party summer. (Motor Man wasn’t really mad: that’s sometimes his camera face….)

a gang

But, last week, that evil, heartless monster that is cancer took a member of our friend family.


Phyllis was a career Army wife. She raised four children while her husband served our country.

She loved cats.

She loved racing. Turn three at our race track won’t be the same on Saturday nights without her.

And when it was cold, she drank hot tea. Or sometimes just hot water, the first person I’d ever met who did so.

She taught me to play Spider Solitaire. And I will always think of her every time I play.

Phyllis loved gardening and birdwatching, and those passions were never more apparent than in the gifts she gave… plants, planters, bird feeders, bird houses and subscriptions to Birds And Blooms magazine.

This was a simple basket that Phyllis planted geraniums and ivy in and gave it to me for my birthday three years ago.  It thrived all summer.

geraniums and ivy 2009 9-14-2009 9-54-37 AM

Last year, this was my birthday gift: a terra cotta watering can with ivy, some type of lily and a succulent. This was also one of Phyllis’s creations.

watering can planter

We’ll miss her. But the gifts she gave, and the memories she left us with, will always keep her close in thought.