James ‘Jimmy’ Olds: A life remembered

It is hard to put two and two together, especially in a tragic death ended by suicide. Yet one must try to piece things together. What is one’s true purpose in life?

James “Jimmy” Olds was a sailing chap who made a mark on this earth. Whether it was his ability to sense who needed help, what needed to be physically repaired or simply just the fact that we all exist for a purpose.

Friday’s memorial for Olds was one of those special moments. He might not have known it, or even approved of it, but Jimmy Olds brought two dozen people together Friday afternoon at Mission Dolores to celebrate life.

Some may doubt why we are even on this earth. But Friday’s remembrance of Olds’ life and passion reverberated within the Mission Dolores.

Randy Runyan, a friend of Jimmy’s and a sailor’s union member for 20 years, expressed candidly during the reception:

“In guys like Jimmy, they see all their friends pass, and even me, I’m getting there now, I just turned 60. You see your friends pass, and you see your friends fail, it’s really sad.

Like you’ve heard, Jimmy’s whole M.O. was coming from a work regimen that he’s experienced all his life. I’ve been talking a lot about the watches, four hours on, eight hours off and four hours on.

Now then, one of the eight-hour periods off, you will rest. You’re not getting eight hours of sleep. They had to pass a law for men like us to have six hours off in a straight line to sleep. Otherwise, the companies would be like ‘work until he drops.’

This is what Jimmy lived and breathed. He defended the working man. He did that. And when he was done working, he didn’t turn his back on his fellow man, he didn’t turn his back on the people he worked with. He came around everyday. He was known as a source of strength and power.”

Raju Kumar, the Mission Dolores worker who witnessed Olds’ death, raised his glass and said:

“This is for Jimmy. He has spent almost 20 years with you and I only spent 20 seconds with him. Thank you for being here. Jimmy did a good job. I’m hearing a lot of good things about him. He was a nice person. That is why we are here! I am going do something for him.

I believe in karma also, if you are going to do anything in this world, things are going to come around, and it is going to bounce. I believe in that.”

Already planning another event, Kumar gained a few friends from Friday’s memorial and invited the remaining attendees to his home for his famous tandoori chicken, aloo gobi and palak gosht.

He then looked at me and says:

“I gotta do it. Make sure that you have all these people’s information. You will be in charge. Let’s celebrate life.”

Deep down, I sensed that for unknown reasons, Mr. Kumar still feels that he failed in saving Jimmy Olds’ life.

“That’s the thing, I said to him: Don’t do it. Give me a chance!”

Kathy, a Mission Dolores gift shop worker and friend of Mr. Kumar interjected:

“Sometimes fate intervenes, Raju. It was his moment.”

Runyan gave Kumar a pat in the back and said:

“A close friend of Jimmy’s did that about one or two years before. When his friend left, I heard that he said ‘That’s the way I’m gonna go.'”