In a world where most people just coast, people who live their lives with passion and with both feet planted in their purpose, they just show through. You really do not forget these people. Jim Garavaglia was just such a person. He was also my friend.
Jim Garavaglia was by position a corporate senior vice president for Comerica Bank, which has been a long-time partner for the organization I founded, Operation HOPE. But Jim was so much more than that.
Jim genuinely, and passionately cared about people. He was the credibility bridge into the corporate offices of one of the most important financial institutions in the country, and he was the very human face for their engagement with the communities they served across the nation.
Jim may not have always given you the answer you wanted, but he always gave it to you straight. When he could have sent a memo, he made a personal call.
When he could have sent a letter, or just sent someone else, Jim often showed up in your offices in person.
He wanted to understand who he was doing business with, and he wanted you to understand him. He also wanted you to know that he cared. Authentically, cared.
And Jim Garavaglia never complained, which is I guess why I and so many others in his life didn't know he was in pain. He was a giver, and fully engaged with life, until the very end.
And so, knowing Jim the way I did, I can say this — Jim has been "promoted." Gone on to a better place. A place which is the essence and spirit of this life, without the pain and the human suffering of this life. A better place.
Jim's legacy is still very much alive, because his work, his energy, his spirit and his essence, will live on in his friends, his colleagues and his work — and in all the under-served communities he loved so much, across America.
We will miss you Jim Garavaglia. We will see you around, Jim Garavaglia.
John Hope Bryant is a thought leader, founder, chairman and CEO of Operation HOPE and Bryant Group Companies, Inc. Magazine/CEO READ bestselling business author of LOVE LEADERSHIP: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World (Jossey-Bass) the only African-American bestselling business author in America, and a Member of the U.S. President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability for President Barack Obama. Mr. Bryant is the co-founder of the Gallup-HOPE Index, the only national research poll on youth financial dignity and youth economic energy in the U.S. He is also a co-founder of Global Dignity with HRH Crown Prince Haakon of Norway and Professor Pekka Himanen of Finland. Global Dignity is affiliated with the Forum of Young Global Leaders and the World Economic Forum.