I didn't know Jim Weirich well. But I knew of him. And I knew the impact he had on others.
Those of us who have been engaged in the community could not help but be aware of Jim.
Jim had a reputation as an excellent Ruby developer; but, more than that, he had a reputation for sharing his knowledge with others. At conferences, he would explain Ruby concepts to experienced and novice developers alike and taking the time to make sure you understood it. I first met Jim when I attended his "Ruby Koans" session at CodeMash 5 years ago. Most people worked the Koans in either the morning or the afternoon session, but I was a slow learner and I stayed for the entire day, trying to figure them out. Jim was patient and answered all my newbie questions.
Jim also had a reputation for being friendly to everyone he met. Some people called him "Ruby Santa Claus" - partly because of his large size and his thick white beard, but also because of his quick smile and friendly outlook. I last saw Jim on the final day of CodeMash this past January. Walking past the Neo booth, I shouted "Hi, Jim." He smiled and asked how I was doing. It was a brief interaction, but I'm glad I have this as my final memory of the man who touched so many lives with his smile and his teachings.
We lost Jim earlier this week. He collapsed at work Tuesday evening and died shortly afterward.
To Jim's family and to those closest to him - especially Joe, Leon, and Doug - I send my prayers and my condolences. To the rest of you, I send this challenge: No matter how well you knew Jim Weirich, take his life as an inspiration to share knowledge and joy with those around you.