On Wednsday, April 8th, my former hometown of Holyoke, MA lost one of its favorite sons. James "The Colonel" Padden passed away on the very same day he buried his mother. I knew Jimmy for well over 20 years and am proud to have called him a friend. He leaves behind his loving wife Penny and his children. At age 54; we have lost a friend long before his time.
I recall Jimmy calling me some years ago to take a look at his decaying porch to see if there was anything I could do to restore it. After determining that it was salvageable; I gave Jimmy and Penny an estimate for the necessary repairs. The Colonel's initial response was one of skepticism. When I inquired what bothered him, his explanation was that he didn't feel the price was high enough. He wasn't worried that I may be taking shortcuts or using sub-standard materials. His concern was that I was giving him too much of a discount due to our frienship and therefore, I wouldn't be making enough money on the project. How often do you think a tradesman hears that he isn't charging enough? That is the type of person Jimmy was.
Although he was involved in Youth Sports; his true passion was Adult Men's Softball. He was certainly a capable player but his real gift was in coaching the game. I had played baseball from the age of 6 to the collegiate level. After my playing days were over, I chose to begin playing softball. Having faced pitchers who threw the ball upwards of 85 mph; I naturally assumed that the transition would be an easy one. Boy, was I wrong. The Colonel was kind enough to offer his expertise and I quickly accepted (I had grown tired of flying out to left field). I remember Jimmy pointing out the differences between the two well into the early morning hours on more than one occasion. An ample supply of beer was always close at hand. I went on to become a pretty good player for the next 15 years and I always attributed that to Jimmy's kindness and guidance.
I am certainly not the only one who has stories that attest to his kindness and concern for others. You would be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn't have a kind thing to say about the Colonel. This brings to mind another facet of Jimmy that I admired. Thinking back to all our conversations over the years; I am unable to recall him saying a single bad thing about anyone. That is simply another example of his character.
In closing, I would like to emphasize how much he will be missed by so many. My heart goes out to Penny and the family and I can assure them that he will not be forgotten. A person as genuine and kind as Jimmy was will always be remembered fondly. Farewell Colonel; you were taken from us far too early but you leave behind a legacy of unparalleled kindness.