Jim was struck down earlier this month on August 19th from a severe basal ganglia cerebral hemorrhage. He never awoke from that initial shock to his brain. He passed peacefully.
Jim was born in St. Paul Minnesota, February 13, 1949, the son of Ernie and Genevieve, parents of Hungarian and Irish descent. He is survived by his husband and long time partner in business and life, Roy Carr, together since 1981, and married since Oct 30th, 2013. While not that close, he is also survived by his sister, Jeanne Meko Hall who lives in St. Paul MN.
Jim attended the University of Minnesota and majored in Communications. While there, he created their first ever gay advocacy group. In 1977, Jim moved to San Francisco and eventually founded a successful printing business with his partner Roy, Best Impressions on 364 10th Street in the South of Market area (SOMA), an area that would become the focus of his later activism in land use and urban planning. Best Impressions earned a five star Yelp rating and continues to operate.
Jim will continue to live on in our hearts and in our memories via the knowledge he disseminated and for some like me, via the know how and skills he taught me. He served as a mentor to many. Jim held a deep and helpful knowledge of land use regulations. I learned so much from him, starting when I volunteered for his campaign for District 6 Supervisor in 2009 and via his community organizing around the Western SOMA neighborhood plan, one of his true success stories. In fact, Jim's community organizing to implement this plan, an eight year process that was highly inclusive, resulted in this new set of zoning regulations that helped to protect long time small businesses and set the course for a more balanced and complete neighborhood. It will be one of his lasting legacies. The Western SOMA plan was approved by our board of supervisors last year in a 10 to 1 vote.
Jim’s activism also earned him some detractors during the “nightclub wars”, mostly from owners and promoters of SOMA area entertainment venues whose expansion ambitions were frustrated by residents seeking to also have quiet enjoyment of their homes. In trying resolve this conflict, Jim volunteered to serve as an entertainment rep which eventually led to two terms on our city’s Entertainment Commission.
I noted, however, that even those that argued against Jim still respected him for his integrity. Jim was honest to a fault and at times, strident. He stood by his principles, including trying to balance competing interests between entertainment venues and residents. Feathers were ruffled. Tempers sometimes flared.
Jim was more than an activist. He was also a great writer, a graphic designer and an artisan printer - rebuilding and running mid 20th century offset printing presses, an analog technology that is appreciated in the world where the feel of paper imprinted with deep impressions, textures and rich colors, not pixels, still matters.
Good bye our dear friend. You may have passed physically from our world but in many ways, you continue to live.
A memorial for Jim has been set up. It will be at Slims, 333 11th Street, San Francisco, between Folsom and Harrison on Monday, August 17th at 6pm.