Shelly Nahas Aldean: Remembering Jim Sasso
I don’t have a clear recollection of when Jim and I first met, but I suspect it was around 1996 when we were both advocating for the reconstruction of the V&T Railroad. At the time I was authoring a weekly article for the Nevada Appeal called “Making Tracks” which was a column dedicated to keeping the public informed about the progress of the reconstruction effort and generating support for the capital campaign.
Jim wrote a number of columns interviewing people involved with the technical aspects of the project like Ken Dorr who, as an engineer, helped to oversee the relocating of the original right-of-way, and JohnD Winters, a former rancher and local icon who shared with Jim his memories of the original operation of the railroad between Reno and Carson City. As a demonstration of Jim’s loyalty to the project he even made a special trip to Colorado to ride the Durango Silverton so he could share his impressions of the type of successful tourist railroad the V&T could become with the financial support of the state and local donors.
Following our collaboration on the V&T, I invited Jim to join the Selection Committee for the Nahas Scholarship Endowment knowing that he would bring the same level of dedication and vigorous enthusiasm to his new role as a member of a five-person committee tasked with selecting UNR-bound students to receive our family’s four-year scholarship award. Around this time of year Jim would always make contact to check on our schedule of meetings, looking forward with great anticipation to receiving his six-inch-thick stack of applications sometime in March. He seemed to take particular pleasure in reading the essays submitted by our applicants because of what they revealed about the young men and women who were seeking financial aid.
He also took great pleasure in attending the luncheons we hosted for our newest scholarship recipients. The interaction with these bright and vivacious young scholars seemed to reinvigorate him and lighten his step.
I didn’t realize until I read Jim’s obituary just how much he enjoyed participating in this annual ritual.
I am thankful for having known Jim and for having shared with him a passion for public service. I am confident that he is standing in line as I write this tribute to volunteer for some worthwhile heavenly cause.