An Obituary Out-Take Worth Sharing

Last week I wrote an obituary for Jim Mock (54) who died of complications from long-ago radiation treatments for cancer. It is so sad, he was a really nice guy. One paragraph of the obituary didn't get printed. Mostly because of space considerations - the number of pages are determined  not by the news but rather by the ads, which pay for the paper-- and because the editor, my friend Tom, is not a sentimental dog person like I am, and since the obituary was about Jim, not his dog, Tom made the cut. Jim was a big teddy bear of a man, who never married and never had any children, but who loved small dogs. He spent the last months of his life at Virginia Mason Hospital in Seattle, and it turns out, so did his loyal dog.  Here is the paragraph that didn't make the cut-- (and below it is the whole obituary. You can also read it in the Chilkat Valley News, if you don't have an on-line subscription you really should, especially if you like local news.)  Buddy, Jim Mock’s Chihuahua-Jack Russell, was treated as family and granted unlimited visiting privileges at Virginia Mason, his mother said. “They allowed Buddy in from the very beginning. They made him a service dog and gave him a hospital ID card with his picture on it.  Buddy would lie for hours on Jim’s bed. He won everyone’s hearts.”

 

Jim Mock

By Heather Lende for the Chilkat Valley News

Staff at Virginia Mason Hospital held a celebration of fisherman, fireman, and river guide Jim Mock’s life Monday night. 

Mock died at the Seattle hospital Saturday of complications from radiation treatments he received in the 1980s, said his mother, Margaret Mock. He was 54 and had been hospitalized all winter.

 “In his last ten days they created a hospice for him at the hospital and all the nurses who had cared for him called or stopped by. He was so pleased to be able to tell them how much their care meant to him,” she said. A local memorial service will be held in June.

In September, Mock was best man at Tyler Scovill’s wedding. Scovill said he will miss his “unbelievably nice” friend. “If I was having issues with a relationship, family, work, he’d listen, and then he’d tell a joke or something.”

Chilkat Guides Operations Manager Andy Hedden worked with the 6’6” Mock and described him as a gentle giant. “I never saw him in a bad mood.”

James Edward Mock was born Oct. 3, 1957 in Tacoma, Wash., the second son of fisherman James Mock and Margaret Bragg Mock. The family came to Southeast Alaska when Jim was a boy and “lived all over,” Margaret said. 

At 15, Mock worked in a Prince of Wales Island cannery and earned enough to buy his first, small fishing boat. At Juneau Douglas High School, he played water polo and took a carpentry class that built a house. He helped his parents build a Port Protection cabin and by graduation from JDHS in 1975, he owned a commercial gillnetter. He also fished for halibut and crab. 

Mock was living with his parents in Petersburg in 1982 when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease. Surviving cancer made him happier, kinder and more outgoing, his mother said. “Every birthday was a celebration because he made it another year. He bounced back and had a pretty good full life until 1999 when things started showing up from the radiation.”

When his parents moved to Haines in the mid-1980s, “Jim came to visit and said, ‘This is home,’ and stayed,” Margaret said. Beth MacCready met Mock when both were working on the White Fang movie set. Mock prepared scene sites and is listed in the film’s credits. She said a greeting from Mock was “a guaranteed hug.” 

After retiring from fishing, Mock worked for the Chilkat Guides. He joined the fire department, serving as the second paid firefighter, and briefly worked as assistant harbormaster and harbormaster. Harbor users recall that he cleaned up the trash and maintained his good humor. “He was great to have around,” said fisherman Dwight Downer. 

Mock, along with fireman Al Badgley and volunteer Cynthia Jones, received a Coast Guard Commendation for Public Service for their role in a dramatic rescue following a plane crash on Davidson Glacier in September 1996. Mock, Badgley, and Jones remained on the glacier as darkness fell, for four hours caring for two victims while three others were helicoptered to a hospital. All five survived. “Jim did a good job, he was laid back, not hurried, and a cool presence,” Badgley said.

In his spare time Mock enjoyed fishing and helping his mother with projects. Tyler Scovill said he and Mock’s outings included four-wheeling, shooting, and snowmachining.

Margaret Mock said when her son received guests while in hospice care “he’d turn it around so that they were the focus and he wasn’t - and he had always had that smile.”

Buddy, Jim Mock’s Chihuahua-Jack Russell, was treated as family and granted unlimited visiting privileges at Virginia Mason, his mother said. “They allowed Buddy in from the very beginning. They made him a service dog and gave him a hospital ID card with his picture on it.  Buddy would lie for hours on Jim’s bed. He won everyone’s hearts.”

In addition to his mother, Jim leaves his brother Shawn of Spokane, half-sister Maria Mullins of Placerville, Calif., a nephew and a niece. Memorial donations may be made to Hospice of Haines at www.hospiceofhaines.org  or P.O. Box 1034. Condolences to Margaret Mock may be emailed to alaskahummingbird@usa.net  or posted at the online memorial site www.funerals.coop

 

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