WNCC holds memorial service for Jim Randolph
Friends and colleagues of James Randolph, former president of Western Nevada Community College, gathered Thursday to grieve his passing and to remember his life.
“James Randolph made an impact on our lives and the life of this college,” said Helaine Jesse, dean of institutional advancement at WNCC, who conducted the memorial service.
Randolph, 58, served as president of WNCC from July 1995 to November 1998. He died in Las Vegas on Jan. 6 from cancer.
The tone of the service held in Winnemucca Hall at WNCC was somber but not sad.
Instead, the speakers and about 125 guests remembered the fun and happy experiences they shared with Randolph.
State Sen. Mark Amodei, R-Carson City, said he first met Randolph at a golf tournament when Randolph was still new to the area.
The two were paired up to share the same golf cart.
He said that Randolph was quiet at first but later relaxed after seeing his golf game was superior to Amodei’s.
Amodei said that at the end of the tournament, Randolph said, “I really want to thank you for putting me at ease with my golf game and I can assure you that as long as I am president of WNCC, no one will see your transcripts from when you were a student there.”
Among those to stand and formally remember Randolph’s life were members from all aspects of the community, including City Manager John Berkich, Carson High School Principal Glen Adair and Grounds Maintenance Supervisor Adn Garca.
Garca said that he was sure Randolph affected the entire community.
“However, he made a greater impact on me,” Garca said.
Garca said he was going through some difficult times in his life when Randolph became president of the college.
One day, while Garca was working outside, Randolph asked Garca how he was doing. Garca at first did not respond, but Randolph persisted.
Finally, Garca told Randolph about his problems.
Garca said that Randolph asked, “Do you want me to feel sorry for you?”
Garca responded, “Well, I guess it’s up to you.”
Randolph went on to tell Garca that he had to stop feeling sorry for himself.
“If you want to get rid of your problems, you have to look ahead,” Randolph told Garca.
It was Randolph’s ability to look ahead that made him a great president in the eyes of many.
“Jim Randolph brought a breath of fresh air and a vision to this community college that he allowed to spill over to the high schools,” said Adair.
As part of that vision, Randolph led the campaign for the technology center on the Carson City High School campus that is used jointly with the college.
He also oversaw the expansion on the Carson City campus as well as the addition of a Minden/Gardnerville campus.
Despite his success, Randolph remained humble and down-to-earth.
In fact, he spent much of his time very close to the earth.
“Most of the beautification on the campus was not done under his leadership but by his own hands,” said Winnie Kortemeier, professor of geology and geography.
She said that during the summer, Randolph and his wife, Caroline, would bike to her house to check on her during her pregnancy.
She said one night she told Randolph that she had too many day lilies in her yard and asked him if he wanted to take some and to plant in his yard.
The next day he came by, dug up six boxes of flowers and planted them on the campus.
“There was no ego in his style,” said Anne Hansen, director of marketing and information at WNCC.
She said that Randolph, in addition to being a great leader, was a great person.
“He had that magical way of making you feel so special,” Hansen said.
He also had a magical way of managing time. Advisers to various organizations related how he attended all activities and functions.
His pastor, Bill McCord said he thought Randolph must have been twins to be able to serve in so many capacities.
“He never missed a meeting of the Staff Parish Relations Committee and he never missed church,” McCord said. “We were sorry to see Jim and Caroline leave, after all they were doing half of the gardening at the church, too.”
His family has asked that donations be made in his name to the Ormsby Association for Retarded Citizens or the Opportunity Village in Las Vegas.