Remembering Jim Klinges ’13: Living life to the fullest

Tom Verdi

Even while going through difficult times, Jim Klinges epitomized what it means to be a Friar.

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It was my first day at Malvern Preparatory School, and I had to ask my father to pull the SUV to the side of the road so I could throw up whatever was in my mostly empty stomach.

That’s how nervous I was. There were massive upperclassmen barreling down the halls, chants of “Leave the school!”—innocent and typical coming-of-age guy stuff—and it was nice to finally enter the refuge of a classroom after navigating the swarm of bodies that were migrating up and downstream. That’s where I first met Jim Klinges seven years ago, around the same time of year that I’m now writing this piece.

[perfectpullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“This column is not about cancer. It’s not about me. It’s not about death. Really, it’s not about brotherhood, or Malvern Prep. It is about Jim Klinges and how he lived out each day with fortitude, optimism, and bravery.”[/perfectpullquote]

I couldn’t tell you what classroom in Carney Hall it was or what we were studying—possibly English with Miss Walsh—but I’ll never forget the vibe emanating from him.

“We all knew him well. He was one of those kids in high school who was actually funny,” classmate Jim Kelly ’13 said.

Without ever socializing with him outside of Malvern events, I can honestly say that I knew Jim well. At Malvern we say we’re brothers, we proclaim the motto of “Veritas, Unitas, Caritas,” of Truth, Unity, and Love, and yes, it shines in times like these more than ever, but there existed something stronger within Jim. He had a way of captivating an entire room with the most inconsequential comment. A simple “What’s up, Verdi?” always had a way of freeing a smile from my face. One felt at ease merely by interacting with him and by being in his presence, such as when entering what used to be the retro-video-game-filled senior lounge. He always seemed to exude joy, perhaps even on his stressed-filled days.

The Hawk, the student news organization of Saint Joseph’s University where Jim matriculated, wrote that Jim “maintained his unique sense of humor throughout his illness.”

I certainly did not through mine.

Stories and news surrounding cancer always hit me hard. I was there once, and by some miracle I was lucky enough to come out on the other side. It is devastating when these stories reside within our Malvern community, permeating and infecting bonds that have had lifetime impacts on me.

As stated, I did not hang out with Jim, and if asked, I would not have called him a close friend. He was a Friar, and he was a brother. That is why I found myself brought to tears six days ago when asked to write this article, why it took me six days to start writing anything.
Jim would not have wanted anyone to mourn, as indicated by the pastels worn amid his funeral services. I wanted to tell what little story I have of him—a small but colossal glimpse into his character that I’d gleaned from my time at Malvern. This character made me realize that the bonds could never be infected.

This column is not about cancer. It’s not about me. It’s not about death. Really, it’s not about brotherhood, or Malvern Prep. It is about Jim Klinges and how he lived out each day with fortitude, optimism, and bravery—not just in fighting through disease, but in every day of his life, especially at Malvern, never afraid to speak his mind as I was in my underclassmen years.

Marty Farrell ’13, a friend of Jim’s, told The Hawk, “He always kept people honest. He would call you out if you were being an idiot or not being honest.”

Whenever I’d see pictures of him, I’d see him in the most ridiculous yet classy outfits—ugly Christmas sweaters, American flag slacks, flat caps, donned whether he was coaching a soccer game or just cheering as part of the student section. Even at his young age, I can tell that the man had a certain understanding of life and, as they say, how to live it to the fullest.

All lives are miracles, even if they are cut short far too soon. Rest easy, Jim.

-Tom Verdi ’13, Editor-in-Chief 2012-2013