Vidakovich Column: Remembering Jimmie and Cande
“All endings are also beginnings. And heaven is always thinking about us.” -Mitch Albom
I do believe that Jim Farris loved coming to my races.
Every early spring and late fall I host a fundraiser 5k run that starts and finishes at my house in west Glenwood. For more years than I can even try to count, Jim “Jimmie” Farris was the very capable captain of the finish line, keeping runners and walkers in order and recording times as the exhausted participants came to the end of their 3.1 mile journey.
Along with his assistant, Jim Roy, Farris would then stick around late into the day, or early evening as was often the case, to partake of a few libations and share stories of life’s glory years when it seemed like growing old would never become even a remote possibility.
Jim’s efforts always came at a bargain basement price. I just needed to make sure the cooler was well stocked with Coors Banquet beers, and that there was a semi-comfortable foldout chair for him to sit in during our lengthy post-race BS sessions. Jim was easy to please and fun to have around.
His most fun in life came when he was on the golf course, especially the Glenwood Golf Club up on the hill where he worked as the assistant greens keeper for the last 20 years. In Gunsmoke terms, if course superintendent Jim Richmond is Marshall Dillon, then Farris was his dedicated Festus Hagan. The two friends double-teamed the picturesque 9-hole tract, and kept it, year after year, every bit as green and beautiful as Pebble Beach or Augusta National.
Jim Farris loved the Glenwood Golf Club and all of its people, and they loved him right back.
Jim’s favorite hole on the hill is the short par 3, #3, where the green can be reached by most with an accurate iron shot off the tee box. If you manage to get your shot safely across the road, it’s a short and steep walk up to the green to see how close to the hole your ball has settled.
There were no golf shots flying at #3 green on the morning of October 7 though. Instead, friends and family lined the hill that encircles the hole, and stood around the edges of the green to pay their final respects to Jim at his memorial service.
You see, a few months ago Jim was diagnosed with a disease in his pancreas. I won’t give the name of the disease, because it angers me too much every time I hear of its existence in people, especially my friends. So I refuse to give the disease any respect.
Jim was no stranger to battles, having served our country in the United States Navy and fought in Vietnam. There were a number of times when I saw Jim that he had on his old Navy cap that read, “Never Accept Defeat.” But with the odds stacked against him from the beginning, Jim must have just decided it was time to go to a better golf course in a better place.
On that cloudy and gloomy October morning, Glenwood Golf Club manager Jerry Butler concluded Jim’s eulogy by first pointing to the relatives seated in chairs near the green and saying that these people are Jim’s family. He then pointed to the many friends from the golf course standing on the hillside overlooking the brief ceremony and stated, “This is Jim’s other family.”
At my next race, I will have the green foldout chair at the finish line with an unopened Coors in the cup holder. No one will be allowed to sit there. It’s forever reserved for the captain of the finish line.
Candelario DeLuera loved coming to my races also. But the truth is, “Cande” as he was known to most of us, loved coming to all races in this area. It didn’t matter what the distance was, from 5k to half-marathon or longer, Cande rarely missed an appointment at the starting line.
Following a heart attack that took place a couple of decades ago, Candelario, a long time maintenance man at Rifle High School, took up running, and never seemed to slow down.
Cande was a man of very few words, but when he did speak, it was always something positive and cheerful about a fellow runner. Cande won his age group more often than not, and usually finished near the top of the entire race, but his main love was being around fellow runners and talking eagerly about the next race on the local calendar.
It took all of us by surprise when about a year ago, Cande abruptly stopped showing up at local races. Rumors had it that he had left his job and moved away to be closer to family. Cande’s whereabouts remained a mystery to all of us, but one thing we knew for sure is that he was sorely missed.
A few weeks ago I got a call from Carbondale running legend Brad Palmer. His message was not a good one. Candelario had passed away in Caliente, Mexico, presumably near his family.
It turns out that the same disease that took Jim Farris, had taken over Cande’s otherwise very strong lungs. At the young age of 60, Candelario also decided it was time for better surroundings than this earth.
Palmer gave a brief talk about Cande at the finish line gathering of the Canyon Shuffle Half-Marathon and 5k on October 6. It was all very low key. Very few words, and that’s the way Cande would have wanted it.
Enough of the talking. Cande just wanted to run.
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