My uncle and godfather James R. Tobin Jr. passed away on Jan. 27th, 2014, he was 72 years old. It's an odd day as it also happens to be my best friend's birthday, it'll be a day that I celebrate and remember forever. To me he was, and will always be, Uncle Jim, but he was a son, husband, brother, and grandfather too. As long as I knew him he was a small business accountant and a man who had an opinion and a story for everything, everything.
I worked for my Uncle for a few years while I was finishing up college and got to know him quite well. He was a big talk radio guy and listened to a variety of shows during the work day. We'd start things off in the mornings with some Dr. Laura - this show basically was people calling in or writing in with their issues and the good Dr. offering up advice. After the caller was done with their question it wasn't uncommon for my uncle to chime in with his thoughts on what the person should do. Typically his responses were not very politically correct, but they made me laugh every time. He was often sarcastic and, I think, liked trying to get a rise out of those around him (me) more-so than anything else.
Later in the day we got to listen to The Sports Zoo, which featured Dave Logan and Scott Hastings. This was more up my alley and we'd argue about the same topics that Logan and Hastings did. My uncle never hesitated to tell me what he thought about the sports world. He believed dunking in basketball should be illegal and if a player touched the rim then the opposite team should be awarded not only the ball, but two points too. He wanted the baskets raised up so that shorter players' talents could be on display and the unskilled guys would have to work harder to blend in. He wanted guys like Earl Boykins to be more plentiful. We rarely agreed on NBA hoops, but he always pulled for the Nuggets and was supportive of my goals for wanting to work in the sports industry.
Last season my uncle attended a Nuggets game with my mom, stepdad, and sister (Amanda) with the Christmas tickets I got them, but his first love was the Broncos. He was a season ticket holder who had pretty awesome seats. One time in college he gave me his seats and my buddy and I went to the Falcons vs. Broncos game where Michael Vick ran all over the Broncos. We got in a little argument with a fan sitting near us that wanted us to "sit down!" while we were cheering for the Broncos. The man, at least, 25 years my elder threatened to beat me up if I didn't sit down ... a couple security guards came over and the fans directly behind us vouched that we were not being unreasonable and were just cheering. Things eventually calmed down, but I was nervous to report back to my uncle about the incident. When I told him about it the next day at work, he said, "Why didn't you throw him over the railing?" This was a sarcastic comment as my uncle's seats were the front row of the second deck, the man would have plummeted a good 30 or 40 feet down.
My sister Amanda took my uncle to Bronco games the past couple of seasons when getting around was becoming more-and-more difficult for my Uncle Jim. He was going down a difficult road with his health and it was something that we had gone though with his wife, my aunt, Karen about 10 years earlier. My aunt was in Utah for what was a routine surgery, for her, and some issues arose and she wound up being in the hospital longer than expected. I was housesitting for them at the time, watching their Shar-Peis. As the complications in Utah mounted, the housesitting gig was prolonged and unfortunately my aunt Karen wound up passing away. I was extremely sad to have lost her, my uncle was devastated, but I was happy to have been there for them and their dogs while they were away.
I admired my uncle for sticking by his wife's side through her years of poor health. She was an amazing person and a pretty serious person - my uncle was definitely her opposite and I often wonder how she put up with him and all his antics. They were a good pair.
When I moved to Casper, WY in 2010, my uncle told me time and again to get ahold of his friend who owned a TV station in the area, but I was set against working in TV. I wanted to write. I didn't quite see the connection that perhaps could have been made had I followed my uncle's advice. My uncle did what he had to do to support a family, I don't think he quite understood my persistence to follow my own path. After I moved back to Denver I was going through some difficult times, I went to his office one day and talked with him ... he didn't tell me what I wanted to hear. He told me the truth and gave me a slap of reality that made me step back and examine myself. I was a bit upset with him when I left, but looking back on it he was doing his best to get me back on a good path.
My Uncle Jim wanted to help people in any way he could. When I worked for him I often saw him give people discounts for his tax and business services, I saw him lend money to people without expecting anything in return (and that includes repayment), and he went the extra mile to get people out of binds (like if they hadn't paid taxes in years).
I loved my uncle, I looked up to him, and I could only hope to be half the man he was. He will be sorely missed by his daughters, grandkids, sisters, nieces, nephews, and friends. I'm thankful he was my uncle and my godfather. I will remember him as long as I live.
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