Back in the olden days, when I was just a cub reporter with a few bylines to my name in the Arizona Daily Wildcat, I picked up the phone to talk to “Big Jim” Griffith about his book Southern Arizona Folk Arts.
I’d been working for a few years up at the DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun, so I’d knew a little bit about folk arts and Big Jim’s work, but it was intimidating to prepare to talk with him. He was gracious with his time and I wrote my first real feature story.
A few days later, I got a letter from Jim. I can’t remember many details, but the gist sticks with me today. He told me he’d been interviewed by many student journalists with mixed results, but he was pleasantly surprised by how the story had turned out.
It was a note of kindness that meant the world to me. He certainly didn’t have to take the trouble to send me a letter, but it was a major boost of encouragement.
That was the kind of guy that Big Jim was: Someone who went out of his way to lift people up, share stories and lead people to new frontiers. He died on Dec. 18, leaving behind his wife Loma and children Kelly and David, as well as two grandkids, Emile and Arwen and many, many friends.
This week, we bring together people who were inspired by Big Jim’s work to talk about what they loved about the guy. If you have memories you’d like to share, please leave them in the comments section.
Elsewhere in the news: Omicron is on the march, with more than 45,000 new cases reported just between last Friday and Sunday. As I look at the state’s dashboard while I’m writing this on Tuesday, Jan. 11, an additional 213 Arizonans have died after contracting COVID, bringing the grim toll to 24,986, including 3,270 here in Pima County. Staff reporters Alex Pere and Nicole Feltman bring you the latest in our Currents section. When you’re out and about, be sure to mask up and be careful when you’re spending time indoors.
Hear Nintz talk about all things Tucson Weekly at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday mornings during the world-famous Frank Show on KLPX, 96.1 FM.