A gentle giant who spoke softly and commanded attention because of his boundless unique talent for design, leadership, and teaching was among us. My friend of nearly thirty years, despite his tall stature, spoke softly and during his lifetime elevated the field of special event design from a modest craft to a well respected profession.
His professional magnus opus or “great work” was most probably his ground breaking text book published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc in 2006 that was simply and elegantly entitled Art of the Event. In this volume, that I had the privilege of soliciting and editing, he created a masterpiece for current and future generations that is just as relevant today as when it was first published. It was literally the first book of its type in the emerging canon of literature concerning event management.
I first met Jim at a conference in my hometown of Dallas, Texas when he was working for a local display company. I was busy helping to found the first international association in the special events industry and Jim quietly and sincerely said “Let me know if I may help you.” He did help a great deal and later he served on national boards and as chapter president of local events industry associations. He leadership was respected and valued by many including me.
Perhaps one of his greatest contributions to the field of events management was as ‘Professor Monroe’. Over many years he informed, educated and indeed inspired hundreds of young and mature students, many of whom followed him into the industry and now are respected leaders themselves.
I saw his ability to inspire students in action when I brought several Scottish students to a conference in Dallas where Jim was the successful co – owner of an event design business. He and his wife Jayna joined us for dinner and over a couple of hours they did not pull any punches and candidly told the students how much hard work was required when working to satisfy the most descerning of clients. The students were completely captivated and later when I asked them what they learned they said “We never met anyone who was so passionate about his field of work after so many years of working in the industry. It was as if he had just begun!”
Indeed, thanks to Jim and his wife and partner of over 50 years, the industry and field that he helped develop has indeed just begun and his legacy is firmly secured due to his priceless contributions of design innovation, inspiring leadership and innovative teaching. He left our industry and each of us individually, much better as a result of his generous and unique contributions. I am deeply grateful for my friendship with this gentle giant. May he rest in peace and somehow know that his beautiful designs for events and indeed for living shall continue now in perpetuity.