A Tribute to a Community Role Model and Friend

By Ben Gotkin

There are people that you meet in this life who are truly special.  Who leave a lasting impact on you based upon who they are, what they do, and what they represent.  People who are role models, who love and are loved by many.  Jim Hollister was one of those people.

Earlier this month, we lost Jim, who passed away after a year-long battle with an inoperable brain tumor.  I’ve known Jim for probably over 15 years.  He was a friend and a colleague.  He would light up a room with his trademark mustached-smile and good nature.  He loved his family, his friends, his co-workers, and they all loved him in return.  He also loved sports and a good beer, and it was always a pleasure to share both with him. 

Luke Mann, who worked with Jim at Northrop Grumman starting in 2012, said that “Jim had a way of making people feel comfortable, and making strangers feel like they were old friends.  He was always engaging and personable, he always wanted to hear the other person’s story.”  Jim’s old friend and Project SAME co-founder Bob Corlett said that “Jim had an amazing ability to welcome people into a room.  Remember when Norm would walk into the bar in an episode of Cheers?  The whole bar would cheer, “Norm!”  Everyone felt like Norm in Jim’s presence.  Jim would smile, greet you, and welcome you into the fold.”

When the original recruitDC Board was established, I needed someone who I could trust completely to handle our finances as Treasurer.  Jim fit the bill, and it didn’t hurt that he also just happened to have an accounting degree from the University of Maryland!  For 4 years, he committed his time and energy to help make recruitDC what it is today, and for that, we should all be eternally grateful.  But Jim’s involvement in the local community didn’t start there.  He was an active participant in Project SAVE, a co-founder of Project SAME, and constantly on the lookout for learning and networking opportunities for himself and his team.  Jim was a true role model as someone who constantly saw the value of collaborating and being involved.  Bob Corlett shared that “Jim was a real mensch…the guy was a supremely gifted collaborator, always happy to do far more than his share of the work and for far less than his share of the credit.”

Communities benefit greatly from people like Jim, people who don’t think twice about going out of their way to improve the community as a whole.  The payoff isn’t anything materialistic, or tied to any personal recognition, it simply comes from knowing that one did a good thing that made a difference, no matter how big or small.  Perhaps it is for that reason alone why his loss hurt so much, that it’s very hard to replace people like that, as they don’t come along often enough.  It hurts even more though that he was taken away from us so young, leaving behind his loving, devoted wife and 3 kids, who supported and comforted him so much in his last year.

Whether it was the over $3500 that we raised in the past year in his name for the American Cancer Society, or the standing room only family reception at the funeral home a couple weeks back, the measures of love for Jim are many.  I encourage you to consider Jim’s example for all of us and hope that you too can see the value, as he did, in getting involved and helping to raise the bar for the recruiting profession in the DC Area and beyond.

The recruitDC community is coming together to next Tuesday to help raise funds to assist his family in paying off the medical expenses. Many in the community have donated generously but there is still more that needs to be donated so that Jim’s family can settle the remaining medical expenses.  I hope that you can join us on Tuesday September 29th at Penn Social for a happy-hour fund-raiser as we gather as a community to share and honor friendships like the one we had with Jim.