Amherst Magazine

imageJIM KRUMSIEK (1936-1982)

Jim Krumsiek was both a fiercely competitive athlete and a convivial soul. He lettered in baseball and football during all four years at Amherst, earning a reputation as the go-to guy when a big game needed to be pitched or a few tough yards needed to be gained.

His competitiveness on the field explains some of his success as a Springfied, Mass., lawyer. But perhaps more important to that success was his good nature, generosity of spirit and humor. A group of classmates wrote after his early death in 1982 that Jim “had a talent for making everyone feel comfortable and at ease regardless of the situation. We will never forget his infectious laugh, his ability to tell a story, and particularly the unique, effective way he dealt with those who suffered occasional attacks of ego or self importance.”

Jim’s widow, Helen, offers an insider’s account of their life together: “Jim was an officer in the Navy right after college and wound up in intelligence work, a fact that intrigued me and our sons but of course was never expanded upon in any way because of security. We all liked to imagine much important derring-do and exciting assignments, which might not have been the case.

“We were actually high school sweethearts who over the years kept drifting back to each other and eventually wed in 1963. Jim was then vaguely planning to go to law school and was working for an insurance company. I was a teacher and urged him to go for it full time, so we packed up (my being six months pregnant) and headed to the Boston area where Jim entered Boston College Law School.

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“By the time he graduated, we had two sons, little money left, but a job waiting for him in Springfield at Bulkley, Richardson, Ryan and Gelinas, one of the largest and best firms in our area. Looking back on the law school years, we really had a wonderful time, met terrific people and stayed close over the years. The Springfield job was also great: Jim made partner in five years and fell into (among other fields) municipal labor
work, representing many firefighters’ unions successfully.

“Jim and a few close friends were the Super Bowl group; every year, they would go off sans wives and have a wonderful time. The first time that the Patriots went to the Super Bowl, in 1986, our friend from law school, the writer George Higgins, wrote an article about his friend, the Patriots fan (in his time, against all reason) who would have been thrilled to see his team in the big time. George’s article, a lovely and witty remembrance of Jim, was featured on the first page of The New York Times sports section the Sunday before the game.

“Jim had his first heart attack in fall 1981 and his second, fatal attack less than a year later. His three Amherst roommates, Tom Gorman, Roger Mayer and Bob Carmel jointly gave $100,000 to create the James B. Krumsiek Scholarship Fund at the College. Every year I receive a letter telling who are the recipients and what their backgrounds are.

image“Our family expanded from Jim Jr. and David, to include Stephen and Michael. They, like their father, became involved in sports and like him are today big Red Sox and Patriots fans. Jim graduated from Holy Cross and Notre Dame Law School.

He lives in Sudbury, Mass., with his wife, also an attorney, and their five children. Dave graduated from Cornell and BC Law and lives in Westwood, Mass., with his wife and four children. Recently, Dave joined Jim’s firm, so they practice law as partners.

“Steve works at Comcast in a managerial position and was married last summer. Michael attended Holy Cross, received an MBA from Babson, is a bond analyst at Liberty Mutual and lives with his wife and three sons in Cohasset.

“I miss Jim and am especially sad that he did not live to see his sons as grown men. One of them said to me recently, ‘He missed so much.’ I like to think my boys got a lot of strength from him; they were enormously supportive of each other and were, I think, very instrumental in each other’s success and character development. But I think what his Amherst classmates would get a kick out of is the fact that they are all very witty and great company like their father.”

James Bernard Krumsiek died of a heart attack June 21, 1982.

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The Krumsiek family about a year after Jim's death;
Jim Jr. and Dave are standing behind Helen; Michael
and Steve are seated beside her.
The family at Steve's wedding in 2006. From left in
back row: Jim, Dave, Steve, Helen and Michael, plus
their wives and kids.
 

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