Thursday, June 26, 2008

Farewell James



James Melroy passed away this morning. It's a tragic loss for everyone that knew him, and for the Press-Telegram. He will be missed tremendously.

He was an "extraordinary person," as one of his friends put it. We all suffer the loss of a hardworking, kind, and loyal friend and co-worker. Please keep James and his family in your thoughts.

I'm not the right person to say goodbye to James. I didn't know him well enough to do justice to a guy that was universally loved by everyone in the newsroom. Some of you can. If you have a memory of James you'd like to share, we would love to hear them.

Thanks to Stephen Carr for the photos of James and his friends in the Sports dept.

* According to Stephen, night city editor Jody Collins took the newsroom photo, and the other pic is a staff mug.

54 comments:

El Dandy said...

I was blessed to know James for as long as I did. While I didn't know him as long as many at the Press-Telegram, I could type until next week and it still won't do justice what his friendship means to me. I miss you already James.
Andres

Feenomite said...

James was half my size, but he truly lived twice the life that I have...
From the first time I met him on a vegas trip back in '98 he was nothing but the best kind of friend...
If this wasn't a family website there are many a great story I could share about him...
Things just won't be the same with him gone....

Miguel said...

James welcomed me to the PT the first day I stepped into the office at 604 Pine in early 2005. And from that day, he became an ideal co-worker by showing me the ropes. He answered every question I had. He pointed out what I did wrong and how to make it better. He advised me on many work related issues, but most importantly, he became a good friend of mine. Saying that I won't miss him is an understatement.
Miguel

El Dandy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kris H said...

I worked with James since joining the PT back in March 1999 and always knew him as a funny and kind individual. Why is it that the good guys always die young? See ya on the other side...

Anonymous said...

James to me was one of those guys whose barbs could could crack you up from across the newsroom. He had a great live-and-let-live outlook. He's living on someplace better... Craig

JCF said...

James was one of the most amazing people I've ever had the privilege of working with.

Talented and hugely good humored, in spite of the difficulties he faced, he never let life slow him down.

What a tremendous and sad loss.

JCF

Pamela said...

I've been friends with Jamie, as he was known to me, for almost 14 years. I will miss laughing about our Long Beach City College days and how we would hide from Earl Williams. :) I will miss our talks about American Idol and who should be voted off NOW!! He was an Awesome friend and I will miss him terribly. I will miss our hugs EVERYTIME we saw each other. I love you Jamie.
Pamela

a said...

I got to know James when I worked back in Sports at the old PT building. Some nights could get tense at times as deadline loomed, but James' good humor helped keep things bearable and fun. And he wasn't afraid to admit to the guys that he was a big American Idol fan. Big Game James, we'll miss you.
Alice

Main guy said...

In a world where so many people whine about what they don't have, James appreciated and made the most of what he did have: the ability to make friends with almost anybody, a personality that kept you smiling after every conversation, and passion for whatever he was interested in.

Brian said...

I was an intern at the PT's sports department last summer, and while I only knew James for a few months, he struck me as such a hysterically funny person.
As a person who has a disability, James always seemed very determined and never let anything get him down. For that, he should serve as an inspiration to many.
I will miss him dearly.

kahkah said...

I only worked at the PT with James for a year, but I was quick to realize that a day at work with him there was going to be a good day. He was such a great friend and would even save me the apple fritter when he bought us donuts. He will always be with us.

-Anela

Joseph Dickson said...

I'll always remember how James was able to somehow answer the phone a hundred times a night.

Crack several jokes about the disorganized coaches calling in scores they didn't have.

Although he was always polite to them. Once that phone call was over we'd share a laugh as he would yell out 'Jackass' then laugh; sometimes slapping the phone down in frustration.

All this and somehow he was able to meet the insane deadlines.

I've never actually seen him angry. But I always knew never to piss him off, he never put up with anyones crap.

Ryan said...

I was fortunate to know James for nearly eight years -- four as a co-worker and nearly eight as a close friend. James and I enjoyed a lot of conversations about everything. He was an ideal co-worker, a great writer and editor and a person with a wonderful work ethic and sense of humor. He was passionate about everything in his life. He was a wonderful son to his mother and a great big brother, too. I am crying as I write this and it's hard to believe I won't be able to call him and just talk, but he's never going to be far from my thoughts. Please keep James' family in your thoughts, too.

Anonymous said...

I met James when I started working a few nights out of the week back in Sports at the old PT building several years ago. His sense of humor was the first thing to stand out. I remember we used to throw wads of paper at each other for fun. Good times! Sure will miss ya!
- Gracie

E said...

James was an amazing person. I only knew him a few years at the P-T but he was always friendly, smiling and cracking jokes. I never knew him to have a bad day in the whole time I worked there. The world will be a little sadder place without James around and though I didn't know him as well as many of you, I know we will all miss him.

Stephen Carr said...

I've also known james for 14 years from LBCC. He was a great and passionate professional journalist and a humble man who never let them see him sweat.

I will miss his eye-rolls, sense of humor and laughter.

He was a good friend and I will miss him.

Steve

Nero said...

R.I.P. James.

Jody said...

I really can't say more than what the good folks here already have, but just wanted to say that the absence of James's wicked sense of humor and kindness will be deeply felt. He was talented, dedicated and always had a smile for his co-workers, no matter how tough stuff around the P-T got. I will always remember him and Pam chatting it up about American Idol. I hope he's are somewhere having a good laugh and enjoying not having to worry about deadlines. We'll miss you!

Anonymous said...

I have a tendency to become obsessed with my hobbies, and James introduced me to two of those obsessions -- Poker Stars and fantasy football. He called his fantasy-football teams "Da Gimpy Pimps," and he truly was a pimp. The ladies loved him. I am sad and sick that we lost James. But knowing him, he'd tell me not to feel sad, that he lived life to the fullest and has no regrets. I want to have the same attitude James had -- positive, honest and caring under ALL circumstances...
-- Joe Stevens

Brian Baiotto said...

James had a spirit that I hope to call my own someday. He and I spoke less than 40 hours ago and he told me in detail about the the last night of his grandfather's life. As those who knew James, his grandfather was also his closest friend and someone who James credited with teaching him about life. He was so happy to watch Eugene's favorite team with him and said he could see the twinkle in his grandpa's eyes. Unfortunately the Angels lost that night and James told me, "of all the games, why couldn't they have just won on this night." I can't begin to tell you how supportive and selfless this wonderful young man was to me. When I got the call today from Sports Editor Joe Haakenson, my heart dropped and I hoped I had heard Joe wrong. My only saving grace is that hopefully James is walking with his grandpa in a much better place. James, if you can see this: I can't thank you enough for being such a great person and despite knowing you for just four months, I only knew you for four months, but you made a lifetime impression on me. For as long as I write, I will have your passion and desire with me. Rest well brother. With many tears,
BB

cellardoor99 said...

I only worked at PT for a year, but if there's people I'll always remember, James is one of them - always up beat and funny as hell . . . in an environment where an amazing attitude like that is essential for all involved. Actually, I just recently started working with people with disabilities so I'm seeing it from that side of the fence more and more. For James to go so early is really a loss. I hope it's better for you on the other side, James.

Anonymous said...

Human beings like James are, in my humble opinion, sometimes placed here on this earth with their so-called disabilites to become becon of lights for the rest of us. His death, while untimely-should be celebrated in the way that they do down in New Orleans-in something close to that manner-a celebration worthy of a jazz like funeral. For down there, it has been said-they know how to party, and death itself is flipped on its side to become an event that is meant to celebrate ones life. Judging by the accolades this man has gotten, his life is surely one worth celebrating. May you rest in peace!

Robert Gagnier, Culver City Observer

Anonymous said...

Yesterday we were reading the obit James wrote about his grandfather, and that he would start to use his grandfather's name as his byline.

It's unfortunate that he will not get to fulfill that honor.

I've designed in P-T's sports department for many years and got to know James very well. He was one of the department's funniest personalities, all the while being a serious, tenacious writer. It was also great to have a pro wrestling fan at the paper.

James may still have the honor of having the most-read story on presstelegram.com. When he started writing mixed martial arts coverage, those stories had an astronomical amount of views. He was becoming an authority on mixed martial arts.

We love you and miss you, James.

Chris Ledermuller

Anonymous said...

As Jody said, what else could be added…

I just want to say that I’m honored that I was able to work with James.
He was a talented journalist and a great person. He was never short on smiles or witty barbs.
No matter how crazy things got, he was always a cool guy to work with and I will miss him.
Cyndie

El Dandy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
El Dandy said...

From former P-T staffer Matt Zimmerman:

James and I worked together for five years at one of Singleton's many SoCal newspapers. He was maybe the only guy in the newsroom who everybody both liked and respected. He was one of those uber-grinders who did whatever was necessary to put out the best possible newspaper every single day, including writing, reporting, editing, and giving dudes who weren't pulling their weight (or were getting on his nerves) the red ass when necessary. And of course, coming in on his days off.

James was the type of guy who would call you a "DUNCE!" one moment, and give you the Angels shirt off his back in the next. He was passionate about sports, about his teams. He loved the Rams, the Angels, the Lakers and UCLA. When the rest of us would be lamenting those teams' fates - as I was pissing and moaning about the Lakers to him just last week - he was always the optimistic one. He was a guy who, like most of us, would have days where the reality of this business would beat him down. But he would pull through, and be the same fun-loving, joyful guy by the end of the shift.

He was born with a condition whose name I do not remember, and whose effects were such that he was in a wheelchair for just about his entire life. James had many surgeries as a child, and even in recent years had some days that were much worse than others, physically. But the reason I don't remember the name of his condition is because it meant less than nothing to the attitude he brought to every single day. Note that I said he was "in" a wheelchair, not "confined" to a wheelchair. He worked with the energy of 10 men, and talked smack with the wit of 20 quality comedians. His condition never affected his work, except in the fact he could not drive himself to assignments, and it certainly didn't affect his ability to have longterm relationships with pretty ladies.

He covered high school softball; it was his baby. And, even with his physical limitations and the fact he didn't get to as many games as he would like, the one year I covered the sport, all the coaches first question was where in the hell is James. In recent months, he finally got the job he was made for, as high schools editor. And he endured all the Singleton cuts and kept perservering.

We spoke just last week. He was upset. We talked about his grandfather's passing, spoke of getting through such times, discussed ways to honor lost loved ones by the ways we live. We also talked about the Lakers and did our usual quoting of Andrew Dice Clay to each other. But the guy who usually can be counted on to respond to "Yeah, I'm out here traveling, but my wife is back home" with "Yeah, I know, Matt. Wanna talk to her?" was down. He was in the dumps because of his grandfather. And just as he always had come back from adversity, I assumed he would do so again, and we would speak soon.

But we won't speak. I would give just about anything to have one more conversation with him, to call each other "DUNCE!!!" one more time, to pat each other on the back for sticking with the Lakers through the recent troubles, to just sit next to James for one more shift on the desk.

Robert Plant's quote on the death of John Bonham is what keeps going through my head. "All I know is I had this great friend, who was so full of life and energy, and now he's gone. It's all so . . .FINAL."

I think that's a paraphrase, but you get the point. Many of us are in shock, and I hope others who knew James post their thoughts on this thread. Thank you all for indulging my need to get some thoughts about our friend down on paper. I'm proud to have called him a friend and sometime mentor. And everything I do in journalism from here on out, I know he will be watching me and thinking of ways to improve my work.

Rest In Peace, James. Know that everyone whose lives you touched - and that's a LOT of people - misses you terribly.

watchingalien said...

Even though James and I didn't talk much since we worked different hours and on different sections, I remember him as a person who seemed to love his work, to enjoy the company of his coworkers, and someone who smiled and laughed often. And those qualities always made for a better day for the rest of us.

Steve said...

James was a cool guy. Only had one in-depth conversation about football with him during my time at the PT, but I could see how much he loved covering sports. My condolences to his family and close associates.

Don said...

Even though James and I didn't talk much since we worked different hours and on different sections, I remember him as a person who seemed to love his work, to enjoy the company of his coworkers, and someone who smiled and laughed often. And those qualities always made for a better day for the rest of us.

Hanna said...

James always asked me how I was doing in a way that showed he really cared.I always thought James was one of the most down-to-earth people I've ever met, and so incredibly easy to talk to. I'm going to miss his friendship.

Lesley V. said...

Working with James was a great experience. No matter what was going on in his life, he was always kind to others and it made my day whenever I saw him. James was the kind of person the world should feel privileged to have given him the space in which live his life and spread his joy, not the other way around.

Matt Murray said...

"None of us could stand the son of a bitch when he was alive, so we told him to stick it."
-Ray Liotta as Shoeless Joe Jackson in the movie Field of Dreams.

Believe it or not, I was instructed to say that. By James.

Several years ago, as I was driving James home from work, we briefly touched on his mortality. Which was really the only time that subject came up between us. James never complained about his situation. It was just something that never came up between us.

The sports department at the Long Beach Press-Telegram probably talked less about sports than any other sports department in America. Often times, it revolved around inane stuff like quoting lines from movies, TV shows or former P-T co-workers. One day, someone quoted Ray Liotta's line from Field of Dreams, followed by Liotta's trademark Goodfellas laugh: "Heh heh heh heh!" Over the course of time, it devolved into "Stick it! Heh heh heh heh!" James did the laugh perfect.

We were laughing about it later that night when I drove him home. He turned to me and said, "You know what would be funny? If you said that about me when I die." We both got a huge laugh out of that, because it was such a ludricrous thing to say about someone at their funeral. We imagined standing in front of a huge throng of mourning people, busting out that line, then watching the whole room of faces turn horrified. We laughed pretty hard at that. But he turned to me and said, "Dude, seriously. Promise me you'll say that." Yeah, yeah, I told him, thinking to myself that he was nuts.

The fact of the matter is, that Shoeless Joe quote couldn't be farther from the truth.

Both James and my paths were intertwined a long time ago. Back when I was in junior high, I was involved in the Boy Scouts. My dad had been right there with me, and he was active as an adult leader. In 1985, my dad was approached by someone from the Long Beach Area Council. They asked him if he was interested in becoming a Scoutmaster for a new troop of boys. Knowing how hard it was for the Boy Scouts to find volunteers, my old man agreed. Turns out that the new troop of boys was the first physically challenged unit in Long Beach's history. And one of the first boys to come through those cafeteria doors that first night was James.

Disabled is a misleading word, because the guys in Troop 7 did everything other scouts did. They just did it a different way. My dad and James instantly bonded, and James became the senior patrol leader for the group. He was instantly likable, and always attracted a crowd of Camp Tahquitz staff members to the campsite when they went to summer camp. For many boy scouts, James was their first real interaction with someone their age in a chair. But it was James' exceptional personality that put everyone at ease. He was perfectly normal, he just happened to be in a chair. He quickly rose through the ranks of Scouting. In 1990, James made history and became Long Beach's first Eagle Scout in a wheelchair. On the day he pinned the award on James' chest, I had never seen my father so proud. My dad thought the world of him, and loved him dearly.

Our paths crossed again ten years later, when we attended Long Beach City College. We both took Pat McKean's journalism class and worked on the Viking newspaper. James was sports editor in 1995, and editor-in-chief in 1996. Back then, we never told people how we knew each other through Boy Scouts. We were too "cool" to admit our connection, though that was a pretty stupid reason, looking back. Thanks to Pat and the Viking, we got our start down the dizzy path of journalism.

Several years later, we both got hired on at the Press-Telegram. I was focusing more on layout and design, James was doing what he loved best: reporting. When I switched back to sports, we were reunited again. We worked side-by-side ever since, until I transferred to the Daily Breeze earlier this year. On the desk, we shared many frustrating nights, quite a few ribald stories and countless laughs together. He was a tireless worker who multitasked better than I ever could.

James infused my work days with as much enjoyment as anything. We would talk about a wide variety of things: from girls to movies to girls to food to girls. But I would say over 50 percent of the time, we talked about wrestling. James was a huge wrestling fan for about as long as I knew him. He knew who beat whom for every title for every wrestling organization that ever existed. He subscribed to several "dirt sheets," which broke down the wrestling business from the insider's viewpoint. He loved reading about the real stories about what went on behind the scenes, and not the stuff they portray on TV.

We went to several live WWE events together, which was always cool. James always was able to get nice seats for us, using his chair as an excuse to sit closer. He even invited me to go to Wrestlemania at Staples Center, which we both were geeked for months after it happened. After that, it was a tradition to watch Wrestlemania at his house. His mom would make us dinner, and we would sit around, cracking jokes and critiquing matches. It was sort of like watching Mystery Science Theatre 3000, with the running commentary throughout the match.

He made contacts through the WWE, and interviewed many wrestlers for the P-T, including Rob Van Dam, Kane, Samoa Joe and CM Punk. He never went fanboy on them, and treated wrestling with respect, which is why many doors opened to him.

As a fan, he loved Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels and Dusty Rhodes. He could break down their careers without blinking an eye. He would drop a Flair "W-h-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o!" for no reason. He had boxes of wrestling tapes, which he was trying to transfer to DVD. He watched matches endlessly. He liked the "drama" of it all, the athleticism and the workrate of the wrestlers. So when mixed martial arts hit the scene, his interest was natually piqued.

He started following MMA almost from the beginning, and was able to convince the editors to cover several events for UFC. Again, with an unbiased mindset, he treated the sport with the same respect as he would for, say, a softball match. He was one of the first journalists to cover the sport in Los Angeles on a regular basis. And because of his professionalism, he was offered up many chances to cover pay-per-view events.

James was a huge huge HUGE Angels fan, and when they won the World Series... Man, he was ecstatic. In the sports department, there was a split between Dodgers and Angels fans. James was probably the most vocal Angel fan, and he loved nothing more than to point out when the Dodgers last won a World Series title. He also avidly followed his beloved Rams and the Lakers. I could never sell him on hockey, though. Maybe if there were more steel chairs...

Over the course of two decades, I'll have nothing but fond memories of Big Game James. I'll miss his laugh, his sense of humor and his friendship. My world was a better place with him in it, and I thank the Big Man upstairs for letting me get to know him.

Matt

Anonymous said...

I tried to post this yesterday, but it hasn't shown up. So if this a repeat I apologize. I met James more than 10 years ago, after I left the Viking at LBCC and he was on the staff there. Like all the people I most admire, James used his brains, charm and sense of humor to deal with an incredibly unfair physical disadvantage. But although his physical stature may have been slight, he more than made it up for it with his giant intellect and wit. In all the time I knew him, I never once heard James complain about or lament his disability. I often saw him test the perceptions and prejudices others have about disabilities, and he usually had a lot of fun in the process. Lord knows he wasn't above making a joke over it, especially if it involved flirting with a hot girl. I cannot express how much I will miss our chats at work, his stingingly funny computer messages and the hugely inappropriate but massively hilarious e-mails we shared (and which have undoubtedly earned us both files with the FBI, or FCC, or whoever polices that sort of thing). I am a better person for his friendship and for the example he set. And if there is a heaven, I know James is there.
- TManzer

Ryan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt Murray said...

This was from a 1990 Robin Hinch article about James, when he was awarded Eagle Scout.

Jamie Melroy has done everything doctors told his family he would never do.
And more.
Born with arthrogriphosis, which seizes the muscles and tendons throughout his body, Jaime, 18, was not even expected to feed himself, much less go to movies with his friends, be the best student in his Jordan High School government class, enroll in classes at Long Beach City College - AND become Long Beach's first disabled Eagle Scout.
"Nothing he does surprises me any more," said his grandmother, Mary Lou Short, who raised him. "He's simply amazing."
His wheelchair parked in the living room under a sign that warns "Jaime's parking spot," Melroy relaxed on the sofa in his North Long Beach home during one of his first, and hottest, days of his summer vacation, a little surprised at all the fuss that's surrounding the Eagle Scout award he received Sunday.
He said he wasn't even "all that keen" on joining the troop, believing Scouting was a little "nerdy." But he decided to give it a try, and now is glad he did.
"It wasn't really that hard," he said matter of factly of his Eagle Scout award. "I just worked at my own pace, and suddenly realized I was getting close. To be honest, I think my Scoutmaster is more excited that I am."
He's right.
Scoutmaster Bob Murray, who formed Long Beach's first Boy Scout troop for disabled youngsters five years ago, is just about to bust his badges.
"I get goose pimples when I think about it," he said. "Jaime is a mover and shaker. He's a natural leader - the unofficial leader of the troop. They don't buck unless he tells them to."
Some adaptations were made for the disabled Scouts, Murray said.
"We rolled instead of hiked, and rock climbing is not exactly our speciality," he joked, "But for the most part, the badges my boys earned were the same as everyone else's. I didn't want them to get a simplified program."
For his required service project, Jamie organized major repairs to the fence surrounding the Camp Fire Lodge in Long Beach, getting volunteer workers and donated materials. He also had to complete 12 skill awards and 21 merit badges.
While a student at Jordan High, he helped coach the school's basketball team, and has been offered a salaried position as assistant junior varsity coach.
He also helped organize events to raise money to build a wheelchair ramp to the school's stadium, since disabled steudents had for years been excluded from sporting events and school pictures. Student efforts to build their own ramp prompted school officials to finally erect one.
But Melroy says he isn't trying to put himself in the spotlight by being such a leader. In fact, he'd rather maintain a low profile.
"I do things because I just want to do them, not to show people," he said. "I just want to be as regular as possible, and go on and live my life, although I'd like to show other disabled kids they can do as much or more than I can."

Ryan said...

This is from an e-mail I received from former PT Sports Editor Jeff Parenti, who now works at the Riverside Press-Enterprise, as he reflected on James:

James was an inspiration to anyone who met him. He was a symbol of courage and perseverance. He was smart and gifted and never shied away from a challenge. He was positive and funny and outgoing. He was and will forever be "BIG GAME JAMES."

Austin said...

James was one of the first people I met at the P-T, in December 2005 when I interviewed for a job as a sports clerk.

I was given a tour at the end of the interview. I met a lot of people, A LOT, and I forgot most of their names.

I didn't forget James, though. I was surprised by the attention he gave me. I was just some guy looking for a part-time job while finishing college, but he talked to me on that first day as if we'd known each other our entire lives. I also noticed he was the smallest person in the room, yet he commanded the most respect.

I had a hundred questions my first few days on the job, and regardless of how busy he was he always found time to help me.

He always had a positive attitude, and he was never short on smiles.

No one could match his sense of humor, whether we were goofing off during slower parts of the day or just trying to keep things light at the end of the night when things were piling up.

Some of my favorite James memories all start the same way, with "Hey, can you hang on for a second?" in the middle of a phone call. He'd put the caller on hold and I'd hear the familiar scream and tap-tap-Tap-Tap-TAP-TAP-TAP-TAP, which would undoubtedly be followed by an awesome story as soon as he hung up.

I loved discussing my favorite television shows with him. I always enjoyed talking to him about wrestling, too, even though I've never been a fan. He was so passionate about that, just as he was about everything in life.

Matt Murray said...

I received this email from pro wrestler Rob Van Dam, after I sent him a note about James.

Wow! That is a shocker. It seems like I was just talking to him a few short weeks ago.
I've been thinking about him and an interview we did.
Thank you for passing this information on to me, as sad as it is.
My condolences to his friends and family.
RVD

Trish said...

Just less than a week ago, James and I were talking about how hard a time he was having recovering from his bout from the flu several weeks ago. He said he felt like he was "done" and that he had never expected to make it to 40. I told him that he had a lot of years of meanness left in him, and he jokingly told me he has already fit too many years of meanness in his short life. He then got serious for a moment, we talked about his grandfather and how important he was to him, and he told me that no matter how many different ways he teased me or made fun of me, he wanted me to know that he cared, and we would never speak of this conversation again. Well, sorry James, I broke my promise. I am speaking of this conversation again. I will definitely miss you, especially when Big Brother starts in a few weeks.

Anonymous said...

I always admired James' brave heart. He demonstrated it in so many ways, brushing aside his challenges and taking on life's struggles with a smile that said he's not folding up his tent just becuase of life's sour notes.
I also enjoyed the way he embraced youth's love of fresh colors, especially in hair fashions (or "fashions"). It looked good, and there was a spark of fun about it, from what could be seen from under his caps. But it also demonstrated his younthful (and brave) heart, the willingness to try new trends (when many at his age simply shy away from such challenges).
I also admired the way he helped others in sports to get ahead, when job opportunities were at stake. He would not shy away from talking to me within sight of management, although others preferred speaking in a quiet spot.
Knowing that James was making that effort to move ahead and beyond life's endless roadblocks, always provided inspiration. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much, James.
Joe (Segura)

Anonymous said...

I didn't have the privilege of knowing Big Game James as long or as well as many of you. But I can tell you what I remember:

Someone who had this way of making you see right past the wheelchair and physical limitations and into the eyes of a bright, compassionate guy.

Someone with a disarming wit and sense of humor, and the ability to use both to ease the tensions brought on by tough deadlines and pages waiting to be filled.

Someone with a passion for his work that was absolutely contagious.

Someone with an incredibly positive outlook on life in the face of circumstances most of us would find all too overwhelming.

My heartfelt condolences to his family, and to all who knew him.

--Jim McCurdie

robin said...

I'll remember James as always having a smile and a witty remark for everyone. His enthusiasm for life and work was tremendous.

I'll also remember him as a great Angels fan. I had a good time talking Angels, Angels, Angels with him, even in the offseason.

James was the last person I saw at the PT before I transferred to the Breeze, and I'm glad it was him. I greatly appreciate his kind, caring words that night.

I'm so glad to have known him. I will miss him.

Anonymous said...

One of the enduring hallmarks of journalism is its egalitarian nature. The newspaper business doesn't care about your education level, social status, physical fitness, et. al.---you can either do it or you can't, and it's as simple as that.

James not only could do it, but he could do it as well as any of us could ever hope to practice the craft.

My condolonces to his family and loved ones.

--Tim Schnupp, former co-worker

Todd Martin said...

During the time that I knew him James was a friendly, kind-hearted and good-humored person. I had great admiration for him. It's going to be sad not seeing him around at events. Hopefully his family and closest friends are hanging in there okay in this difficult time. Miss you James.

El Dandy said...

From former P-T staffer Mark Carpenter:
"I was so fortunate to work with James for 10 years and get to know him most importantly as a friend. I thoroughly enjoyed his company. He was uplifting, witty, smart, capable and a friend to all. He left a great impression on me that will long endure."

Brandon said...

I known James when he was in Tucker and Hill Jr. High school days. We had class together.

I miss you James.

trish said...

I am still having such a hard time dealing with this news, it's still so shocking. I did want to leave another comment, expressing my condolences to his co-workers and friends, because he loved his job, sports and working there so much. He talked about it all the time to me. As I mentioned on the newspaper website, I was not "allowed" to discuss sports with him because I didn't know enough for him to waste his time talking to me (according to him), so we stuck to discussing reality TV and other TV shows and movies. There are so many great and wonderful eulogies already for him, but I did have to add my own, here. I am going to miss him so much -- I already do.

Anthony said...

There's one thing us journalists do well and far too often: complain. Whether its out lack of space or early deadlines, we're gifted at it. Then there's James, who rightly could complain more than any of us sitting in the windowless sports department on Pine.
He did exactly the opposite with the humor many of you have already written about.
I'll remember our nights on the desk and even a few nights at O'Connell's where I got to know James. Most of my favorite moments in my 5 1/2 years at the P-T include his one-liners.
The thoughts of Sherry and I are with his family.
A.J.

Anonymous said...

All of these comments have been so beautiful, in large part because they are all truly heartfelt for an individual who only brought joy and friendship to all he encountered.

For most of my life, every day I have awoke pissed and complaining about many things, even though I have had little to be upset about for my lot in this world. In comparison, James had a plethora of areas where he could have jusifiably complained daily but never did.

James helped changed my attitude about life more than any person I have ever met. He was an inspiration to everyone who knew him and especially to those of us who have worked alongside him in the trenches of Media News early deadlines, thus earning his tag of "PT-Lifers."

When I was hired as prep editor at the P-T in 2000, James had every reason to dislike me. I was a cocky kid coming in from the South who knew nothing about Long Beach and had just started in a job James had desired and was actually born to do. But James, Ben Villa and Steve Irvine amicably helped show me the ropes, with James eventually becoming my closest confidant, as well as the most reliable reporter and copy editor on the prep staff.

Taking phone calls from ticked off parents was never fun, but sitting next to James every day was the highlight of my job despite his proclivity to jokingly quote me out of context within the office confines.

Eventually, James landed that position and proved to be a far superior prep editor than I ever was. Despite Dean Singleton’s regular cutbacks, and cheap-skating, Rupert Murdoch-type managerial ways, James’ quality reporting, writing and desk work proved to be three of the only constants in the ever-changing PT sports office. He knew Long Beach sports as well as anyone.

I will miss our long-distanced phone calls that were regular over the last six years, his often misplaced faith that the Rams would be legitimate title contenders each year, and especially my beating DaGimpyPimps annually in fantasy football.

The world has lost a shining light in James Melroy, but everyone in heaven has a new friend.

- Ted Kian

Anonymous said...

I had the pleasure of working with Big Game James for over seven years. He was one of the most positive and energetic people I've ever met and was truly loved by his friends, family and co-workers. Despite his physical condition, James was NOT disabled or handicapped. He was one of the most able people I've ever met and was determined to live a normal life. He had a great sense of humor and wasn't afraid to laugh at himself. You could always joke with - or at - James but you had better be prepared to be zinged yourself, and his was usually better than yours. He was a terrific journalist and was largely responsible for the P-T being one of the first daily papers to cover mixed martial arts. I'll miss our good-natured ribbing over the Dodgers/Angels and USC/UCLA. I'll miss laughing over the Ted Quote List. I'll miss his one-liners in the office that were always hilarious and perfectly timed. Most of all, I'll miss my friend. Peace out, my brotha.
Dave Felton

Anonymous said...

Its been 3 months and I miss James so much, he was my first born, the doctors tried to get me to give him up as I was a single mom and I refused. He was a precious, happy, funny, passionate, dependable and loving son. He would have and did anything he could to help me. He lived with me his whole life and I guess thats why it hurts so much to loose him, as I never was without his presence at home. I'll always love and miss you so much sweetie, Love Mom

Stacey said...

James made this comment on his old blog. I thought his co-workers would enjoy reading it.

Thursday, August 19, 2004
One of the reasons I LIKE my job
I know I complain about my job a lot (and deservedly so), but there is plenty about it I do like. The main reason I love it is the people I work WITH (not for, let's keep that straight). It's like a fraternity in the office on some nights. We're a rare breed. Most of the rest of the building is empty while we're at our busiest. While other sections have put their pages to bed way before deadline, we have to push the envelope each and every night because many, many, many games don't end until 10 or 15 minutes before the paper's final deadline. That means we have 10 minutes to get the story from a reporter, edit it for corrections and to fit the size our designers have given us, write headlines and captions for photos, get it on the page and send it off. It can get quite tense in there.
I love it.
Why? Because we have a good time in there, for the most part. Being in the sports office isn't for the weak at heart. We will rag on each other until most people would cry. But we laugh, and give it back ten times harder than it was given. And, we find the most juvenile things funny.
Last night for example, I was talking to one of my co-workers about something involving the night's section. Suddenly, the movie Old School popped into my mind for a reason I can't quite remember now. We started discussing the movie the way only two men can discuss a movie of such low-brow humor. I mentioned my favorite part of the movie - the wedding singer's version of Bonnie Tyler's 80's hit song ''Total Eclipse of the Heart.''
My co-worker didn't remember it right off-hand, which aggravated me to no end. But, lurking a few desks over was another co-worker. A few minutes later I hear him yell ''James ... I have something for you.'' That sentence in the office usually brings my defenses way up. And I start getting ready to try and think up retorts to what undoubtedly was going to be an attack on my manhood.
And then I heard it. This. (note: not safe for work, so turn down the volume or plug in headphones unless you have cool co-workers like me.)
Right then and there, I declared my love for the internet. I declared my love for my juvenile co-workers who had nothing better to do than to look up a sound clip. And I declared my love for The Dan Band. For if I ever find a woman stupid enough to wed me, she will have to allow me to hire The Dan Band as our wedding singers for that song alone.

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