by Kim Stowell
When I took the helm at Options some ten years ago, I inherited a small but mighty band of editors. There was Myra Shays, Jim Faria, Steve Kagan, and a few others. And there was Jim Seavor, who recently passed away at age 80.
We took our editorial responsibility very seriously, proud of our almost always typo-free issues. But there was also so much levity on those editing nights – complete with singing, witty banter and arguments about grammar – it was a very literate gang, and Jim was no slacker in that department. His knowledge of both AP style and Musical Theatre made him an important member of the group – he could be counted on to remember the words to a song as well as define a gerund. At some point, his hearing began to go – we just yelled at him.
Jim had a brilliant career, and we were so fortunate to have his talent and knowledge on board after his retirement from the Providence Journal. I often said that Options could never have afforded such talented editors if we had to actually pay for them, and yet Jim (and the others) gave so freely to our little newsmagazine.
He was a wonderful writer too – never using even one word more than he needed to. I remember when Jim approached me about Nicholas Knisely, who was to be Rhode Island’s new Episcopal bishop. Jim wanted to interview him for Options, but needed an introduction. I did not know Rev. Knisely either, but I offered to reach out to him, setting up an appointment for the two to meet. So humble was this man – who had interviewed Frank Sinatra and Lauren Bacall, for crying out loud – that he dared not approach a bishop without some semblance of formality.
I will never forget the many years Jim presided over an annual church supper and drag show at Saints Peter & Andrew in Providence. Have you ever even heard of such a thing? And yet Jim pulled it off, year after year, to raise money for the church’s food pantry.
The world has lost a gentle, sweet soul, the likes of whom I don’t think I will ever encounter again. Such a giant of a man with such small stature! I would recommend him for sainthood.
Jim had not yet retired from ProJo when I first came to edit Options and met him. Although he was the only news professional in the room, he never threw his weight around. I loved his wry, sly sense of humor.The stories and reviews he wrote were impeccable — there was no way to improve them. Very gradually I learned about his extensive background in radio and other media. He was a modest man. I’ll always be grateful that he chose to volunteer his prodigious talents — and warm personality — at Options for so many years.
For more years than I count, Jim Seavor was a dear member of the editorial team as well as the entertainment specialist at Options. I was always conscious that I was in the presence of a respected elder who had blazed a trail for many of us to lead an out and open life. He was a wonderful, passionate man who loved the arts and his community and he always spoke thoughtfully and with great humor. I enjoyed listening to him talk and always took something meaningful away from my time with him. He will be missed.