I just found out that Jim Dybalski, beloved father and one of the most compassionate and delightfully irreverent people I've ever been blessed to know, passed away yesterday. Jim came into my life when I was just a pup at Apple Computer, taking over for the guy who'd hired me and then been unceremoniously sacked while on vacation. Jim was the handpicked successor, a favored colleague of our new VP who was much reviled by all. So, naturally, we feared the worst.
Jim couldn't have been more different from what we feared. A guy, 20+ years my senior, Jim was a seasoned IT veteran who'd spent a good chunk of his career working at Cigna and was born and raised in the New Jersey suburbs of Philadelphia. So, he definitely was not formed in the Silicon Valley mold, by any stretch - and those of us in his wake benefited from that.. But, Jim was one of those guys who lived life with life with gusto, deliberately and visibly. He took his role leading a group of young, inexperienced and idealistic techies quite seriously, but never himself. He knew that a big part of his job was to be an example of "how to be" and to teach us all how to be - he invested in us and developed us both personally and professionally. For me, personally, he "got" my love of the irreverent - being far more of a scamp than I ever dared to be - and he showed me how to be irreverent but respectful at the same time (not that I've always followed that tutelage as I should).
Rather than post a portrait of Jim, solo, I've posted a picture of him with his whole family at Christmas a few days ago. Jim was defined by his family: the center of his universe and source of nourishment. Jim loved to talk (he had many great stories), but nothing pleased him more than to talk about his family. While being able to prepare for his death was something of a gift for Jim (he was pleased to be able to say good-bye and have a full measure of appreciation for the blessings of his life), I know that the last several months have been very hard on the other folks in that picture. Jim, Greg, Diane, Jessica and Sandy...please know you have my condolences and gratitude for loving him deeply and thoroughly. Nothing in this life came close to you all in importance for Jim, though I'm pretty confident you all know that.