Mr. JIM RANKIN, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
With the utmost regret, I must inform you of the passing of Mr. Jim Rankin of Milwaukee, a prolific contributor for decades to theatre history nationwide and in particular to the rich history of Midwestern theatres.
Jim may have been one of the world’s most knowledgeable experts on draperies and tassels, and was often called upon to share his knowledge with planned and ongoing restoration projects and scholarly journals on the topic.
Those who knew Jim as a friend – there are many – will attest to his old-fashioned courtliness and courtesy to all, including (and almost especially) the rawest neophytes with a newfound interest in the trappings of theatre lore.
Jim’s many postings here are often the only remnants of the rarest stories that surround so many of the long-lost and mostly-forgotten theatres of decades past.
Jim Rankin very often talked about the need to raise a voice on behalf of any endangered theatre – and yet he still managed to keep a practical mind towards all foreseeable eventualities and outcomes in each case.
A “realistic dreamer” was Jim.
Often vocal against the sort of elitism and “cliqueyness” that can creep into dedicated groups including theatre aficionados, Jim made certain his personal approach to all who met him was filled with all the personal warmth and welcome that is called for when making new friends with similar interests.
Though Jim rarely complained, his health has been poor for decades. His father died at sixty – Jim’s age, when he passed just before the New Year of 2007 of kidney failure, the result of diabetes.
Jim Rankin loved all theatres, including the most modest small-town houses that dotted the American landscape in the past century. But Jim really did favor ostentatiousness and opulence above all, and would joke, punctuated by his loud and memorable laugh, that the Roxy and San Francisco Fox were far too plain for his tastes.
Jim was very devout in his religious beliefs and lived his exemplary, too-brief life with a sense of dignity, honor and responsibility to himself, his friends and his interests.
I know that Jim will forever dwell among the beauty and majesty of his Heavenly Father’s mansions, to which our greatest and most magnificent earthly palaces pale in comparison.
Services for our brother Jim Rankin will be Friday, January 12th, 2007 at 7 PM at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses – 12165 Layton – West Allis, Wisconsin.