In Memoriam: James D. Faimon

by Jim Jirak

Recently, the membership of the American Council of the Blind of Nebraska lost one of its charter members who was active both in Nebraska and on the national level. Jim Faimon was born Jan. 5, 1938 and grew up in Lawrence, Neb. on the family farm.  He lost part of his hearing and most of his vision in a birth injury that damaged his optic nerve and closed his ear canal.

Having attended the Nebraska School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (NSBVH) in Nebraska City, he was introduced to amateur wrestling.  Jim participated in the sport until his graduation from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) where he lettered on two different occasions on the university's varsity team.

Graduating with a bachelor's in education, Jim went on for a master's in history. But after his student teaching, he decided that another career path was necessary.  Jim then enrolled in law school and, upon completion, interviewed for a county attorney position in Lawrence before being hired by the city of Lincoln.  He always practiced civil law, and defended claims against the city.  In addition, Jim handled worker's compensation and often would argue appeals before the Nebraska Supreme Court.  We should point out here that few people are aware that Jim fell through an open manhole in Lincoln and was injured with a stress fracture to his leg.  He could have sued the city and never worked a day after the accident, but that wasn't his style.  And following 40 years of employment, on May 31, 2007, at a retirement celebration outside the Lincoln mayor's office, he was presented with a Braille proclamation recognizing his years of service.

Jim's involvement in the American Council of the Blind of Nebraska was invaluable.  Having helped organize the affiliate in the 1970s with founder Betty Hofman, he helped compose the state constitution as well as provided guidance on chapter constitutions as local chapters began to affiliate.  He also helped name our ACBN newsletter "The Not So Frequent Newsletter" because of the frequency, or lack thereof, with which it was published.  And until his passing June 25, he served as legislative chair of our annual senator's luncheon as well as our registered agent with the Secretary of State's office.

Jim held many offices state-wide as well as in the Lincoln chapter.  He was an important member of Lincoln's Give-A-Lift cab subsidy program committee.  Also, Jim faithfully attended chapter meetings and state conventions and offered sound advice on the subject matter being discussed.

Nationally, Jim attended many conventions and was a member of the American Association of Visually Impaired Attorneys.  For many years, he'd serve as delegate, alternate delegate and nominating committee representative, as he was the only one from Nebraska in attendance.

A story is often told of an incident involving Jim, the Alaskan delegation and smoked salmon.  According to long-time friend Bill Orester, it smelled so good that Jim, a delegate from California, and he feasted on the delicious morsels.  "The problem developed that others wanted to get a share, so Jim and I were expelled from the party," Bill said.  "I thought it was unfair, but we yielded to the demand and the house."

When Bill married Mary Susan, Jim agreed to go to Delaware to serve as best man.  It nearly resulted in a hospital visit because he was run smack into the wall near the front of the church. Jim, however, took it in stride. Then, when the minister asked for the ring, he couldn't find it.  While the minister wasn't too concerned, Jim was.  Thankfully, the ring was eventually found.

Jim met his wife, Bonnie, in 1972 through a mutual involvement with the Nebraska Democratic Party.  They dated for several years, beginning in 1993, married, and had recently celebrated their 15th anniversary.

Jim was co-founder of the League of Human Dignity in Lincoln; a member of St. John's Catholic Church; Knights of Columbus Council 833, 4th Degree; Optimist Club of Lincoln; Nebraska Bar Association; Lincoln Bar Association; and the Nebraska Alumni Association.

Because Jim donated his body to the Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha, a memorial service was held July 21 at St. John's Catholic Church, and was well attended.  In lieu of flowers, Jim designated memorials to St. John's Catholic School Endowment Fund, Pink Sisters of Lincoln, UNL College of Law scholarship fund, or Leader Dog School for the Blind, Rochester, Mich.

Like Josephine Genit and Rich Jirak, who also passed this year, Jim will be missed, but I have no doubt that he is in heaven.  Thanks, Jim, for your valuable contributions of time and talent that contributed greatly to the success of the American Council of the Blind of Nebraska.