It is always sad when you lose a friend or loved one to death. When I heard that Jim Prendergast had passed away I was immediately struck by that awful feeling of loss. Jim’s effervescence was contagious. He made the business of networking an opportunity to cavort and have fun. Don’t get me wrong here, Jim was a serious advertising man and he took his business and this direct marketing industry very much to heart. But jeepers can’t you smile while you’re working.
I met Jim more than twenty years ago when I was the President of the New York Chapter of the Mail Advertising and Service Association. My first encounter was a lunch where Jim and I met to discuss his compensation package for the good work he was performing for the group. The directors had decided that his pay package was too rich and I was sent to negotiate a better deal for the association. I met Jim and he gave me a very cordial, endearing actually, greeting. We sat down at the table. The leprechaun sitting before me must have sprinkled some sort of fairy dust on me because I was completely taken by his charm, experience and obvious devotion to the industry. He knew literally everybody. I was smitten and when we walked out I was flush with success. We agreed that he would stay on as Executive Director and with a substantial raise. I don’t even recall agreeing to the raise but I know that the deal was a huge win for our chapter and me personally as Jim became even more of an integral part of our direct mail club when we really needed him.
I listened to John Gomez eulogize Jim at Jim’s memorial service. Nobody knew Jim better than John did. They were childhood buddies, roller hockey teammates, colleagues at work. As I listened to John’s stories of their days together I imagined myself growing up with Jim. What fun it must have been, living life next to this ball of energy, squeezing every ounce of life out of every day.
I consider myself fortunate to have become as close to Jim as I did. Everybody felt close to Jim, especially if you had any Irish in you. He kept his friends and was always up to making new ones. I sent him a note only a few days before he passed away when I knew he was retiring from his Executive Director role he had held for all those years. “I want to tell you that I know the value of your great work, your cajoling, your calls and antics and how all of them have maintained this chapter’s ethos for decades now.” He responded “we made a good team.” Short and to the point. Sums him up perfectly. He died the next day. Rest in peace Jim.
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This post was written by Michael Kellogg