Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Uncle Jimo (4/23/1927-1/26/2012)

James Jerome Sandor, my Uncle Jimo, was a ray of sunshine in our family. Always smiling, always joking with someone, everybody loved Jimo. My Baba called him her "pretty boy". When he played football, Baba would get upset when he got tackled, because she thought that the other guys were trying to beat him up. He served in the Army and was very handsome in uniform.

Jimo grew up in Slovak, Arkansas and even while in California he remembered his heritage. He taught a shop class. One time some guys in his class were talking among themselves in Spanish. He surprised them by walking up to them and talking to them in the Slovak language. They were speechless!

Jimo, Aunt Helen, Susan, Nancy, Jimmy, and Patricia came to visit us in Arkansas during the summer. I always looked forward to their visits. One spring Uncle Jimo and Jimmy took me to the horse races at Oaklawn Park. We had a winning day and celebrated with a steak dinner that night.

Jimo helped my family through a very tough time during the winter of 1978. Baba and my dad both died within a couple of weeks of each other. Jimo stayed at our house with us kids and gave me lots of good advice to get our family back on our feet. I will never forget his kindness to me.

When I attended the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, Uncle Jimo's alma mater, Jimo & Helen were in Fayetteville and introduced me to the Delux Cafe on Dickson Street and Maxine's Tap Room on the Square. When I was exploring the campus, I found Jimo's name on the Senior Walk at the U of A in the 1951 and 1955 walks on the lawn of Old Main. I also played jukeboxes and pinball machines in the Arkansas Union game room and found out that they were rentals from his entertainment company.

One time Uncle Jimo was in Fayetteville and took me to Mary Maestri's Italian Restaurant in Tontitown for my birthday. Jimo knew everybody. He introduced me to Mary, and her spaghetti and chicken, with spumoni for dessert. When I turned 21, I had my first legal beer at a bar he owned in Fayetteville. My fraternity also won an aluminum can drive contest because I made arrangements with the bar to pick up all their cans for recycling.

When I rented my apartment, all I had to do was drop Uncle Jimo's name and I was moved to the top of the waiting list. It turns out that the apartment manager went to high school with Aunt Helen. Jimo was my roommate the summer that I started grad school at the U of A. He taught me how to eat hot peppers with salami and beer. I was taking a golf class that summer, and I did run into him a time or two while I was practicing at the municipal golf course.

Our family has had reunions in Slovak a couple of times since 1999, and Uncle Jimo was in his element. He told us all about growing up in Slovak and stories about our family. He is so loved by us all and will be missed by so many.

I know that he is up in heaven charming the Trinity now. They are going to love him so much that we will soon be calling them the Quartet.

Rest in Peace, Uncle Jimo. I love you so much and always will. The world is a better place because you walked among us and taught us so much by your example.

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