The world’s all right
Last updated 9/28/2022 at Noon
Editor’s note: Jim Anderson, long-time naturalist columnist for The Nugget died September 22, at the age of 94. At his family’s request, we’re republishing a column published in August of 2020, when he moved to Eugene and “retired” from writing. That didn’t stick; his column on the Reno Air Races can be found on page 16. It was a great honor and privilege to know and work with Jim Anderson, who, in Rudyard Kipling’s immortal phrase, “filled the unforgiving minute with 60 seconds of distance run.”
It must have been the haze of wildfire smoke. When I sat down at my desk at The Nugget over the weekend to open an email from Jim Anderson, my eyes got a little watery.
The message was one I knew was coming, but it was mighty poignant all the same. The message read:
“OK, here it is Good People, the Last Story, all 2,700 words of it. I hope you’ll run it, perhaps in two editions...or whatever. It’s going to be a very sad day for me when Sue and I walk out of our home of almost 50 years and leave this land of Central Oregon that I love, but the one constant in Nature is change...”
Jim and Sue are heading to the Willamette Valley to be closer to family. It’s the end of an era.
Who am I fooling? It wasn’t the smoke.
Jim’s message was poignant, sure, but also funny. It’s just like Jim to leave his editor with a massive 2,700-word column. He’s known since before I became his editor that columns really should max out at about 800 words. So… the “last story” will have to be three.
I don’t think Jim would mind me telling you that he is a bit of a handful for an editor. Word counts, like the Pirate Code, are “more guidelines than actual rules.” And he was never really comfortable with the distinction between a news story and an opinion column. Keeping his opinion and voice out of a piece wasn’t something that came naturally, and Jim could be mighty set in his ways…
But, after all, Jim Anderson has a wonderful and distinctive voice, and strong passions for the things he holds dear: aviation; family; the bounty of Nature. Come right down to it, it’s a voice that shouldn’t be muted. And it’s a voice we’ll miss.
Jim is a man of strong principles and a caring heart. I’ve seldom met anyone so genuinely warm-hearted, so thrilled to see others thrive and succeed. He was so proud of his children’s accomplishments — and he was proud of yours, too. About the only thing that could obviate his compassion and love for his fellow man was seeing Man damage and destroy his beloved natural world. For those who would deliberately and wantonly destroy Nature, he reserved a fiery and righteous anger.
But even when he had to be a warrior, he was a happy one — and he knew that the best way to combat a destructive mentality is to educate people and imbue in them an understanding and appreciation for its joys and wondrous beauty. Jim is a teacher, perhaps above all else — formally, through his writing, and simply through casual conversation.
We should all do so well as to fill 92 years of life with real living, as Jim Anderson has. We shared a love for the poetry of Robert W. Service, and it’s fitting that he signed off with a favorite passage:
The World’s all right; serene I sit,
And joy that I am part of it;
And put my trust in Nature’s plan,
And try to aid her all I can;
Content to pass, if in my place
I’ve served the uplift of the Race.
Truth! Beauty! Love! O Radiant Day —
What ho! The World’s all right, I say.