A tribute to our friend,
It is with a heavy heart we announce that our longtime friend and colleague Jim Coonan suddenly passed away on Sunday, April 4, 2021.
Jim, a 35+ year veteran of the appellate printing industry arrived at PHP in April, 2002. He brought with him a savant’s knowledge of the rules, procedures and general ins and outs of the appellate printing business. He assisted his clients with thousands of appeals, and was always adamant that his clients’ filings comply with all appellate rules and regulations. He would go above and beyond to provide extensive editing and preparation of his clients’ legal briefs. It was a wonder to behold.
But that was just the business side of Jim. He was oh so much more than that.
If you knew Jim like we all knew Jim, he was at any time gregarious, explosive, charismatic, complicated, steadfast, contrary, sympathetic, intense, generous, attentive, passionate – just to name a few qualities. And in his own uniqueness he sometimes displayed all of them on a given day.
He was a life force in the office. From the moment the elevator door opened in the morning, Jim would be in your doorway with his jacket still on and coffee in hand calling out a hearty good morning and then maybe regaling you with his ever eventful trip on the Metro-North, or the fight he witnessed on the corner of 39th street or the down on his luck guy he bought breakfast for at the coffee cart. He would make his rounds through the office into the production department and then back to his desk to start his day. Sometimes it would take him ten minutes to get there and sometimes forty. But when he sat down he was ready to work – and work he did.
He would feverishly attack several briefs at once and you could easily hear him outside of his office talking on the phone with clients as he worked. They were all so reliant on him and many simply in awe of his knowledge. But he was more than just a fountain of knowledge to his clients. He was a very good friend to so many of them. Accolades have been coming in fast and furious:
“Jim and I spoke an average of three or four times a week. While almost all were business calls, we spent far more time talking about the Mets, Rangers and our families than about business.”
“I knew and worked with Jim for over 35 years. He was not only a terrific professional – the best in the business in my view – but one of the sweetest human beings on the planet.”
“Jim helped with every brief I’ve worked on for nearly twenty years; but far more importantly, he was a rock and a friend beyond any measure, whose inevitable first words upon hearing of trouble were always, how can I help? What can I do? Or, best of all, I’m on my way. I will miss his steady hand, his calm guidance and advice and his warm and loving friendship forever.”
That was Jim and the accolades could continue to fill pages and pages.
And what a story teller he was. Jim could converse on any topic and had a story for everything. He could burst in to start the day and tell you a tale of the night before or something that happened on the early commute. But he wouldn’t tell one person, he’d track down everyone in the company and tell us one by one. You would hear him coming your way and right before he started up again, it was not unusual to hear, “Hey Jim, I heard you tell that story four times already. I think I’m already up to speed.” Jim would let out a good laugh and then force feed the story on you anyway. You simply couldn’t restrain him.
We had his number around here though. If you had the floor and were telling your own story, you could just tell by the gleam in Jim’s eye that before you were done, he was all ready to one up your story with one of his own. He couldn’t help himself and we had more laughs throughout the years over those idiosyncrasies in Jim than you could count. Oh God, we will miss those stories.
His passion for life was always on display but never more than when he was talking of Sam. His office was a shrine to Sam and his pictures lined the walls and shelves. For nineteen years Jim reveled in telling stories of Sam. From the vacations they took, to his exploits on the ball field, from entering kindergarten all the way to college. We felt like we all went to school with Sam. And as we all say around here, we think we know more about Sam than even Sam knows about Sam. Jim was Sam’s rock and Sam was Jim’s pride and joy. Our hearts all feel the tremendous depths of Sam’s loss.
We are all still struggling to come to terms with the sudden and inexplicable loss of Jim. We weren’t ready, as we are sure no one was. Within Jim’s office and always at his reach, was a small mass card. It was a remembrance of Jim’s father whom he lost in 2004. His relationship with his father was a mirror image of the one Jim had with Sam. It was a bond that couldn’t be broken. A quote on the back of the card from the anonymous passage reads:
“I could not stay another day, to laugh, to love, to work, or play. Tasks left undone must stay that way, I found that peace at close of day. If my parting left a void, then fill it with remembered joy. A friendship shared, a laugh, a kiss, ah yes, these things I too will miss.”
It’s a bit ironic that the passage chosen for Jim’s Dad is so equally relevant with Jim’s passing. The similarities are striking and each word speaks to our devastating loss.
We will remember Jim as an orb of energy that continually sped around the office engaging colleagues all day long. We are already missing the daily tours as he would head out to get lunch each day asking every single one of us, “Can I get you anything?” Every . . . single . . . day . . . without . . . fail. His thoughtfulness and generosity knew no bounds.
Jim, please know your spirit will never cease to exist here at PHP. You will remain within our hearts and these walls forever. You were the best of souls and we were all honored to be your friend. We know you are already looking down upon us and we will continue to tell your stories and enjoy laughs at your expense. Though you will no longer be able to one up us again, we promise to keep that memory of you alive forever. Godspeed Jim. You were one of a kind and you were loved.
Your Family at PHP