Thursday, August 26, 2010


A really nice man has passed on, living a full life of 92 years and being just a truly excellent person. I'm talking about James W. "Jimbo" Fawcett, a great Houstonian for a big portion of his life. He was a good friend to me for many years, particularly in my young 20's, and some years later became breakfast eating buddies with my father. I feared that the death of his famous actress daughter Farrah last year would be too much to bear for the poor man, because he always worried about her being in Hollywood.
The picture above shows Jimbo last year at Farrah's funeral. I thought he looked dang good for a 91 year old man. The picture is from

"It's fast living out there, my boy" he'd say. "Been that way for years and that's just the way the entertainment business is."

I wrote a post about Farrah and my friendship with her most excellent dad, "Call me Jimbo" Fawcett. That post from last year is better than what I was writing here, and I think it shows well just what a great guy he was. God Bless, Farrah

I've written elsewhere about knowing him since I was a young man and he in his late 50's. It seemed we just ran into each other everywhere. Getting coffee or gas in the morning, eating at area restaurants and shopping in various stores. Jimbo was everywhere, smiling the smile I'll always remember. I worked in lots of places in our "hood" as a youngster and so just saw him every couple of days or so it seemed. He'd often address me by my full name, which he once asked me about, and I'd always feel special when his made for tv narration voice spoke to you.

Jimbo was one of those folks who had the proverbial twinkle in his eye and the lilt of a Santa Clause in his voice. Mischievious, yet highly sincere.

I always took something away from the talks we had about life. He had lived a hard scrabble life early on and had worked hard for what he had in the South Texas oilfields around Corpus Christi, and that made him appreciate it even more. I have no idea what he was worth financially, but the gossip was that he was worth as much or more than his starlet daughter Farrah.

You'd never know it by talking to him or looking at how he lived his life, though. And it tickled him I think when people assumed he was some run of the mill guy who supervised a janitorial company at the bank and the golf club. He often dressed unassuming, in his trademark Keds slip on tennis shoes, pressed khaki slacks and white short sleeve collared dress shirt.

Whether he was hanging out at the bank that he owned a large portion of (and also ran the janitorial company that cleaned the bank), or at Champions Golf Club (where again he wasn't hanging with the scenesters but supervising the cleaning company he owned as they cleaned the restaurant and the rest of the premises.

Oh, I'd see him in a suit or a tux every now and then, and I mean to tell you he wore it like James Bond, like he was born to wear that suit. But deep down, I bet he wished he was wearing his Keds slip on tennis shoes.

But the thing I always remember most was that smile when he'd see you. I remember countless times of getting gas at the local Texaco station or coffee at the nearby 7-11, and he'd already be there when I pulled up. When he'd recognize me, he'd break into a big grin like you were his biggest long lost friend ever. And he meant it. He made no bones telling folks what he thought of them if he didn't like them. But rarely did he bother with that. He was the kind of fellow who made you feel special and that if you had his approval, you were indeed, cool.

I won't be able to make his funeral unfortunately, but it's funny because I was thinking about Jimbo earlier this week, the same day he passed on. I was thinking how it would be great to see him and his smile again.

Doesn't matter. I'll always remember the time in my life when I got the share his friendship and kindness, and then thinking how cool it was that some years later, my dad and he became buddies independent of me, just on a chance meeting.


  1. I was a Farrah fan from far back (I never met her, but do have her personalized autograph--she and my mother met--AND her poster) and was surfing the Internet tonight for news about certain business and legal matters pertaining to her estate. While doing this I found out about her father's recent death. I left a message at the online obituary for the Houston Chronicle, then continued surfing for more news about him and came across your blog. I enjoyed reading your stories about the friendship the two of you had. It seems as if despite the success he had in his own life and through his daughters' endeavors, he was at heart a simple Texas working man. I would have loved to hear any stories he may have had about the Texas oil business! BTW, I chuckled when you related how Farrah seemed pleased that you remembered when the two of you first met. How could anybody not remember meeting HER! According to legend, when she was a student at the University of Texas at Austin, fraternity men were lining up in long lines to meet her at sorority functions.

    Tom Magness

  2. Thanks for stopping by and for the kind words, Tom. You hit the nail on the head: Jim Fawcett was salt of the earth. We mostly talked about current events, and the stories I got from him were more life lesson type tales than actual stories. Even then, I'd have paid for his time just to sit and listen to him tell stories. I consider it a privilege to have known the man, and he influenced me considerably.