A Tribute to My Friend, Dr. Jim DeVries

Last Friday, we held a celebratory event on campus for my friend, Dr. Jim DeVries.  There were over 100 individuals in attendance to honor Jim. While Jim has inoperable cancer and is currently in hospice, he is still alive!  The event was featured on the front page of Saturday’s Monroe News.

Dr. Jim DeVries, or as my son calls him, “Dr. Jim” is many things: educator, philosopher, historian, sociologist, veteran, author, father, grandfather, librarian (the book collection in his basement is nothing short of incredible), collector (he is the only person I know whose African art collection rivals mine — it is a phenomenal collection), and much more, but to me, he is first and foremost a FRIEND and CHRISTIAN BROTHER. Jim was a History professor at MCCC for 40 years and has served on the Board of Trustees for the last six years.

I met Jim DeVries a little over five years ago when I interviewed for the presidency of MCCC. While I did not know him then, we bonded almost immediately (after I got the job) and he reached out to me because we were both lifelong educators and kindred Christian spirits. I am thankful to God that Jim is in good spirits and understands more than many of us that God does not make mistakes and has the best plans for him here and beyond. Jim is indeed a man of faith.

Jim is selfless, and he said to me that this celebratory event was not so much about him as it was about family and bringing the community together.  Jim is always thinking about others and he loves his family, community, friends, and MCCC! I recall almost two months ago, I stopped in to see Jim after he had been admitted to Henry Ford Hospital. He was in bad shape and the diagnosis was dire. I had just had surgery a few days before and was going through some other physical issues. The first thing he did was to ask me how I was doing and to pray for me and my health.  Even now when I visit Jim, he is concerned about me and my health. That is the kind of person he is, always putting others first, even in his current condition. Also, many may not know, but Jim has helped students with tuition and expenses and much more.

Jim and I have traveled together and presented at conferences, we have broken bread together many times, attended church together, and prayed together numerous times. Anyone who knows Jim knows that he tends to be candid and is quite witty.  Jim loves children and I must admit that as one who also loves children, I am envious that he can do that Donald Duck impression and I cannot. By the way, he did the impression at the event.  Some children are amused by his impression, others are frightened by it….

I miss the vibrant full of life Jim and I know that my life will never be the same because he has touched and impacted my life in a way that many will never know. I end by saying, as long as there is life, there is hope and I am not giving up and will keep on praying until God’s will is done. I LOVE YOU JIM!