His given name was John, but he was always Jim Kalas. I knew him from my time at Trinity United Methodist Church from 1983 to 2000, but I would continue to see him occasionally when the FOCUS Churches would meet during the summer.
One thing many folks knew was that he was an avid swimmer. I found this article from North Central College in Naperville, IL. He was inducted into the college’s sports Hall of Fame for Men’s Swimming in 2015 based on his accomplishments in the pool back in 1955.
Speaking of a Hall of Fame, Jim had the same deep, mellifluous voice as his brother. Harry Kalas, who died in 2009, was the longtime announcer for the Philadelphia Phillies. Harry was the 2002 recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award, awarded by an arm of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Jim and his wife Mary attended the ceremonies in Cooperstown.
The college article about Jim gave some useful biographical information. “After graduation, Kalas went on to earn a Bachelor of Divinity degree from the University of Chicago in 1958 and a doctorate degree in philosophy from Columbia University in 1962 before beginning his career as an assistant professor of philosophy and religion at Lake Forest College.”
TUMC and SUNY
At Trinity, he was very active on various boards, as I was for a time. He was also an educator. I attended several of his sessions, reading sections of a Bible version that Jim had translated from the original Greek. He was slated to offer a monthly Bible study of Genesis, promising to look “at the present day meaning of some of those old, familiar and fascinating stories.”
His primary vocation, though, was as an administrator for the State University of New York, overseeing various areas over a quarter century, including research, economic development, and international programs. He was interim president of the College at Potsdam c. 1997
Jim retired, allegedly, in 2000 as an associate provost, He later joined the University of Albany as a part-time professor in educational administration and policy studies.
He was always very active, serving on the board of The Capital Area Council of Churches, among other tasks.
Here’s a story I told two years ago, but I never gave attribution before. Shortly after he retired, Jim told me that I almost didn’t get the job as a librarian at the NY Small Business Development Center in October 1992.
“There were one or more persons on the committee who were concerned about my race. Specifically, the job required that the librarian in that position create liaisons with the state directors and other staff in the other states’ lead centers. Many of them were in the South, of course. The search committee feared that these folks wouldn’t cotton to working with a black person. So I was rejected for that reason.
“Then, someone up the State University of New York food chain told them, ‘You can’t do that!'” SUNY protocol prohibited them from excluding me because of my race. SUNY is the host institution of the NY SBDC. I ended up getting the job after all.” That someone was Jim Kalas, my boss’s boss’s boss at SUNY.
Recently, my wife thought she saw him walking in the retirement community where my MIL lives. He must have moved there relatively recently, after his wife Mary, who I liked, died last year. Jim and Mary had been married 49 years.
Sometime this century, Jim told me that he wanted How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place sung at his funeral, which will be on October 1 at Trinity. The song is part of the German Requiem by Brahms, sung in English. It’s based on Psalm 84. I’ve sung it several times. Jim, who had a nice singing voice, probably had as well.