Friday, April 10, 2009

Farewell Colonel

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.


  1. That's tough stuff brother, but you have honored your friend well with your blog. Sounds like he enriched your life and the lives of many others, and that you were a lucky man to have been able to call him friend. A good friend is a rare find, it sucks to loose one. Condolences and Respect

  2. Jimmy Joe has been a dear friend of mine since 1968. Very few of us knew him as "Jimmy Joe." He was so much fun, so positive, so funny! I miss him already.
    Claire Sullivan Paquette

  3. Beautiful piece. My condolences to you and his family. He sounds like a great and kind person. I wonder what could have happened to him to feel that he had to do this.

  4. Thank you all for your kind words and to you Claire, my dear, dear friend. I know you feel a bit of anger, as I do, regarding what he did but we have to somehow get past that. You know me as well as anyone so you're aware that forgiveness is not one of my strong suits. But I'll try if you will. I will speak to you soon. Love ya!