James A. Chilcutt, Jr.: “You can’t ever break a spork.”
It’s one tool. It does everything you need. Cuts down your drag by 50%. It’s unbreakable…better for the environment. Less waste. Simple efficiency, man!
That was Jim espousing the benefits of a spork to his bemused coworkers over lunch at Paragraphs more than a decade ago. He was totally serious, but delivered his earnest message with a half-raised smile and a twinkle in his eye. You always had to pay close attention to see if Jim was being serious, pulling your leg or a combination of the two at the same time. It was usually both.
Like a spork, Jim was a rare combination of useful, ingenious, practical, fun and seemingly incompatible attributes no one had ever put together in quite that way. Here are just a few examples: Jim was quiet and thoughtful in his demeanor, yet he was an early adopter of gangsta rap. He loved clean lines and white space in his design, but reveled in dirty jokes and the well-timed double entendre. He was always economical with his words but when he did speak, his insights and perspectives carried tremendous weight. And, if you hadn’t guessed, Jim always was diligent, thorough and extremely detail-oriented about his work – whether that “work” was designing a brochure, building a piece of furniture or plotting an elaborate prank on his coworkers. 😉 Smart and devious, passionate and playful, highly visible yet somehow always flying under the radar, Jim pulled all of it off, all the time. And we loved him for it.
Jim also was ahead of his time in many ways. Most notably, Jim was a true environmentalist in word and deed, pursuing a sustainable lifestyle – from mountain biking and recycling to responsible food and clothing choices – long before any of us could even spell sustainability.
There are so many lessons Jim taught us that remain with us today. This classic straight-arm response to an unnecessary and easily preventable 11th hour project “fire drill” captures Jim’s wit and wisdom in a single sentence:
“Your lack of planning doesn’t constitute an emergency on my part.”
Unfortunately, there was a project handed to Jim that no amount of planning could overcome. He tackled his ultimate challenge with the same grit and grace he had applied to so many client assignments over the years…not that we’d have expected anything different from Jim.
We’re proud to have worked with him. We’re better for having known him.
We’re grateful to call him our friend.
And as great a designer as Jim was, he was an even better friend, husband and father. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the extended Chilcutt family, especially his wife Bridgette, his son Hayden and his daughter Anna. May you be comforted by the warm memories of the time you shared and the love you have created that lives on in your family.
We’ll miss you, Jim.
The world is a little less joyful place today.
But you’re right. A spork can’t ever be broken…nor will it ever be forgotten.