Penny Nelson participated in her first Craig Coffee Party meeting Saturday.
Nelson said her brother, Jim Blevins, had every intention of attending as well.
Instead, Jim was notably absent.
He died of a heart attack Jan. 22 at age 65.
“Since he started this, he has asked me to come every month,” Nelson said of the local group her brother helped found. “And, because of my work schedule, I haven’t been able to come. I saw him walking one day, and I said, ‘Jim, I can come to this meeting because I’m off work.
“I’ll see you later this month.”
Saturday’s meeting was a celebration of Jim’s life.
Jim was born in October 1945 in Denver, and adopted by Vernon and Margaret Blevins, of Craig. Over the years, the family moved to Bozeman, Mont., and Granby, but they eventually settled in Craig.
In 1996, Jim opened Blevins Electronic Repair at 109 W. Victory Way. In March 2010, he founded the Craig Coffee Party.
The Coffee Party meets on the third Saturday of every month at Serendipity Coffee Shop, 576 Yampa Ave.
On Saturday, Coffee Party members and Jim’s family took turns describing Jim and their feelings of loss.
Nelson said her brother was intelligent.
“Very intelligent,” she said. “His IQ was 184.
“He was always intelligent, but it was only in the last few years that he had any common sense.”
Nelson said her brother was prone to mischief at a young age.
“We called Jim the ‘mad scientist,’” she said. “He was always tinkering with electronics.”
She also recalled several stories from their youth.
Nelson said that when Jim was 13, he built an electromagnet while the rest of the family was running errands.
“He was in the kitchen, and he set this thing up,” Nelson said. “He plugged it into an outlet, and it exploded. Glass flew all over the kitchen and knicked walls and ceilings, and everything.
“My mom came home and was like, ‘What in the hell did you do this time?’”
Nelson said Jim got in trouble with his mother often. One day, Margaret received an alarming phone call.
“The pharmacist called her one day and said, ‘Margaret, I don’t know if you know it, but Jim just came in here and bought enough stuff to make gunpowder to blow up the whole town,” Nelson said.
Nelson said Jim was in trouble so often, he was once implicated in a natural disaster when the family lived in Montana.
“When the earthquake happened in Yellowstone, oh my gosh, we lived in Bozeman, and it just shook everything,” Nelson said. “And I had a friend staying with me that night and she said, ‘Oh my God, Jim’s blowing up the house.’”
Jim’s other sister, Laura Parker, said Jim was often perceived as eccentric, and sometimes lacked tact.
“Jim was never a liar,” Parker said. “He didn’t understand why people would lie. So, what came out of his mouth was really what he meant.”
Parker said the Coffee Party was a positive social outlet for Jim.
“I just want to thank you all for being his friend, for being here for him and not thinking he was Looney Tunes,” she said.
Coffee Party member Ken Wergin said Jim could harbor stubborn beliefs, but was also open to hearing new ideas.
“Some of the things he’d say would irritate me, but he was always firm in his belief, and I really liked the guy a lot,” Wergin said. “And he would listen to my diverse thoughts, which were very much opposed to his. And still we got along. I’d go down to see him at the shop.
“I really loved the man. It’s hard for a man to say that about a man, but I did. I loved him.”
Craig resident Randy Neece said Saturday’s event was his first meeting.
“I’ve taken my electronics over to the shop to have Jim fix them. I just liked him a lot,” Neece said. “I thought about coming to a party meeting, and I never did. I figured I’d come today to pay my respect.
“I really liked his writings, and I’m going to miss him a lot.”
Jim was a frequent contributor to the letters to the editor section of the Craig Daily Press.
Coffee Party member Jan Rogers said she followed Jim’s work.
“His writing was so beautiful,” Rogers said. “He really knew how to write.”
Nelson said Jim’s death was unexpected.
Jim called 911 around 5 a.m. Jan 22 because he was having trouble breathing, Nelson said.
Staff at The Memorial Hos-
pital determined Jim had suffered a minor heart attack, Nelson said.
“They wanted to fly him to Grand Junction,” Nelson said of TMH. “And (Jim) said, ‘I’m not going.’”
Jim returned home at around 8 a.m., Nelson said. However, a few hours later, Jim was short of breath again and returned to TMH.
Nelson said a medical helicopter was preparing to transport Jim when he died.
Nelson questioned the wisdom of Jim’s initial refusal of treatment.
“They tried to talk him into flying to Junction, they tried to talk him into staying at the hospital, they tried to talk him into calling somebody,” Nelson said. “And, he said no to all of that.”
Nelson wondered if Jim’s decision was for the best.
“Thank you, God — and I really mean this — that he didn’t linger,” Nelson said. “He would not have been happy with a handful of medicine and all of that. That would not have been Jim at all.”
Nonetheless, it’s a difficult decision to reconcile, Nelson said.
“I’m really kind of pissed at him, though,” she said. “It’s like, ‘Damn you. Why did you do this to me?’”
Wergin, who has a background in respiratory therapy, said Nelson’s feelings are common.
“It’s very normal for people to feel mad,” Wergin said. “It will go away. But, it’s very normal.”
Nelson said her family is planning a memorial service.
“Later this summer, we’re going to have a celebration of life for Jim at Loudy-Simpson or City Park,” she said. “I think Jim would like that.”
In the meantime, she’d like to see the Coffee Party go on without its founding member.
“I really hope this continues,” Nelson said. “I know that would make him feel good.”
Members of the Coffee Party agreed to continue hosting meetings through at least October.
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