JIM CREES: A rare type of guy

Jim-CreesA couple years ago, the story of a special man was published in a springtime edition of the Pioneer.

The article began so:

“It’s a rare thing when one man casts a shadow that not only stretches to the most distant horizon, but also reaches beyond the normal bounds of time.

“It is extraordinary when the mere mention of a man’s name can bring tears of affection and joy to people who knew him 60 years ago.

“It is astonishing that one man can, with simple acts of caring, concern and love, change the lives of an entire community of children.

“It is rare, extraordinary and astonishing. But it happened in Big Rapids.”

Jim McEvoy was that man.

McEvoy spent a short period of his lifetime in Big Rapids, but the shadow he spread was simply huge. A generation of young people in Big Rapids were influenced by his caring and kindness — once-upon-a-time children who grew up to be judges, public servants, county commissioners, township officials, university professors and business people in the Big Rapids community.

Through an astounding sense of community volunteerism, McEvoy created an outreach that impacted Big Rapids for years, and years, and to this day — well after he himself had moved on with his life outside the area.

McEvoy single-handedly created the Big Rapids Junior Police — a precursor to the Boys and Girls Clubs — foregoing the purchase of a long dreamed of car (a Pontiac for which he had saved for years!), and investing the money instead in club activities for a bunch of kids to whom he really owed nothing at all.

People who today are grandparents remember clearly the fun they had, the guidelines for behavior they learned, and the “rules” for ethical, compassionate and involved community living they developed sitting at the feet of Jim McEvoy.

This young man, still in school but with a sense of responsibility not only to the community but to the future as well, touched lives … and then moved on.

His impact is still felt.

This week, Jim McEvoy made his final move.

McEvoy passed away in Bay City and will be buried today.

In the Big Rapids community, very little is known about Jim McEvoy after he left and moved on with his life. Folks don’t know what kind of businessman he was, or what kind of family man he became.

What is known is that he was an idol to a generation of Big Rapids kids, and remains a legend around this area.

Simply put, he was a good man who did good things in the Big Rapids community and he is well-deserving of both thanks for his community efforts so long ago, but also for the spirit of community caring he left behind that is still at work in Big Rapids and neighboring townships and villages today.

Jim McEvoy was a good man.

 

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Posted by Jim Crees

Jim is the editor in chief of the Pioneer, Herald Review and Lake County Star. He can be reached by phone at (231) 592-8360 or by e-mail at jcrees@pioneergroup.com.

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