The Fox Cities said good-bye to Jim Eagon Saturday. It took a hall with 342 seats to handle the crowd that wanted to memorialize him, in the communications building at the University of Wisconsin – Fox Valley that Jim helped make happen.
Jim was a long-time board member for the Community Foundation, United Way Fox Cities and many other nonprofits. As business manager for UWFV, Jim oversaw construction of nearly every building there. But his real impact on the community came one smile, one conversation, even one pun at a time.
Cancer and a severe infection took him from his family and his community two months ago at age 63.
He was described as a servant leader, a friend and mentor and a man who encouraged joy. Nearly every conversation included how Jim would make you feel special by his attentiveness and the air of decency he carried.
We took a journey from his childhood with twin brother John and five other siblings to his enviable impact on his two sons, Eric and Bryon, and story of love and adventure with wife Wendy. His sons spoke of their father in a way any father could only dream about. They spoke proudly of having “Jim Eagon moments” and trying to live up to the example he set.
Equally as notable as Jim’s knack for making people feel important was his incredible willingness to serve his community. Besides contributing his talents to nonprofits serving all of the Fox Valley, he served his immediate community as a member of the Winneconne Village Board and Plan Commission and volunteering at the Winneconne Thrift and Gift.
He was a gentle man, but was fierce in defending his principles. One colleague described his conversation with Jim after an administrative change that disadvantaged the local campus as an a – – chewing.
A graphic displayed the part of the Menasha campus that Jim did not play a lead role in getting built. It was a sliver of the original campus.
You could easily envision a building named after him, but it might be more appropriate to name a way to treat people with respect or an effort for all who knew him to strive for “Jim Eagon moments.”
Jim was the man we all wish we could become. And our community is much closer to the best it can be because Jim passed this way.