Friday, May 29, 2009

Goodbye to our friend - Big Jim Sollinger

It is with sadness, that I offer the poem below. Our dear friend Jim Sollinger, or as his "bar friends" affectionately called him Toby, passed away last Saturday night at the age of 67. Jimmy fought a brave battle with lung cancer. Diagnosis to his final passing happened quickly taking only 8 weeks. We were rather shocked to see how quickly the cancer spread. His cousin Carolyn and her husband Bob took wonderful care of Jimmy through his illness. They will miss him greatly.

As my blog is often a memorial tribute ... I wish to share Jimmy with all of you.
Brian has known Jimmy since he was 12 years old. Jimmy used to work with Bri's big brother Lenny at the time. Through the years Jimmy and Brian remained very close friends. Jimmy helped work on both of our houses. When we had a dog that didn't quite fit into our family, she chose Jimmy to be her new Doggy Daddy. She followed him around our home, constantly looking at him with those big expressive eyes, begging him to save her from the chaos that is a home with 2 boisterous boys. LOL We thought she was a good pet for our family but she did much better with an older owner with no children. Trixie and Jim remained good buddies through the past 5 years and I know she is missing him big time. Luckily Jimmy's other friend Scott was kind enough to adopt Trixie into his family where she is now being loved with their other dogs.
Brian was a pall bearer at the funeral and Carolyn asked if he would say something at the funeral. Brian is not a person to speak in front of a crowd. As I watched the color drain from his face at the mere thought of doing that, I stepped in and offered to do it for him.
I hate attending a funeral, where nothing personal is said about the person who has died. They lived a life full of friendship, family and fun. While it's always difficult to say something at a funeral... Jimmy was worthy of being shared. Being quite the character, I decided to write a poem about him and include some pictures. His face is dirty in the picture with the other gentlemen, one being my husband Brian (with that late 80's perm! LOL) and the other their friend Mike, because they were working on remodeling our home in Etna. They were obviously in the demolition phase. The other is at the housewarming party for the same home and Jim is making one of those classic goofy faces.
He was a kind man, a funny man, a man with a big heart and even heartier laugh. He will be missed by many friends in Lawrenceville and especially by my husband, his friend for always, Brian. I was very touched with my husband's reaction to Jimmy's death... he cried more than I had imagined he would. A true testimony to his friendship. I present to you now, the poem I wrote about Jimmy and read at his funeral. It's a tad humorous too, so you will get a better idea of the man he was. Thanks for letting me share Jimmy.

Whether you knew him for many years,
or if you had only just met.
Jimmy is one of those crazy characters
you could never ever forget.

With a happy twinkle in his eyes
and the heartiest laugh you'll ever hear.
A cigarette in one hand
and in the other an Iron City beer.

Some folks called him Toby,
while others called him Big Jim.
It matters not which name you chose
You always had a friend in him.

He was a rather well known man
a self made king of Lawrenceville
and when he hit that football poll
it gave him quite a thrill!

Spinning records to the masses
He was our DJ man.
He even DJ'd our wedding
with a mike and a beer in his hand.

Always hanging and eating with Billy
even fighting with him too!
But they loved each other anyways.
Their friendship was true blue.

Hanging out at Salac's bar
and even some bars in between.
You would really him holler,
when he won on that poker machine.

Our Jim was always happy
you would never find him down
always smiling and laughing right out loud,
you would never see him frown.

He helped Brian build our houses
with his stong and loving hands.
You could always hear him coming,
in that beat up hippie van!

Years he spent working with Lenny and Brian
and Kevin & Bruce at First Glass
The upholstery store with his new friends.
Who knew it would all end so fast?

He loved his sweet dog Trixie
and boy how she loved him too.
Say a little prayer for his canine friend
though she now lives with Scott's family
I know she's feeling blue.

He loved his aunt and cousins,
they were there when things looked grim.
Caroline even gave him a bell,
so she and Bob could take good care of him.

We sadly now must say good-bye
Your soul now heaven will claim.
I know that our hearts and Lawrenceville
Will never be the same.

But our Good Lord made us a promise.
That who so ever believes in Him.
Will one day be reunited
With our friend and brother Big Jim.

And when you get to heaven
as you near those pearly gates,
There Big Jim will stand
with a beer in his hand
laughing out loud as for you he waits.

written by Tammy L. Tobac
for our dear friend Jimmy Sollinger

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