A year ago today I woke up to the news that my dear friend Jim Rygelski no longer was with us. Since then, there have been many times I’ve missed his advice, friendship and the banter in the many breakfasts we shared.
I’m not sure how the Cardinals got through this season without him, or the folks at St. Ambrose on the Hill. All of his many friends could say the same.
In the 23 years I knew him, Jim was a close friend and a terrific boss. He knew his baseball and showed it in two well-received baseball books he co-authored.
He exemplified the kind of journalism practiced at the old Globe-Democrat, where he worked before it closed. At the Suburban Journals in the 1990s, he was the model of a community journalist.
The most faithful Catholic you could imagine, he was the first lay editor of the St. Louis Review. He was a staunch conservative Catholic, as he was a strict political conservative. I’ll say it. He was Old School about everything.
Toward the end, he expressed his views in an occasional column on religion in the Post-Dispatch.
As an evangelical, I sometimes shared my differences with him. But I knew he was devoted not only to the church, but to Jesus.
Jim proofread the first half of my book The Making of an Icon: The Dreamers, The Schemers, and the Hard Hats Who Built the Gateway Arch and predicted great things for it. I dedicated the book to him after he died. With that dedication is a picture he took of the Arch from the back window of his house on The Hill.
Jim is a perfect example of the adage that we don’t know what we have until it’s gone. I don’t think I’ll ever stop missing him.