I’ve known some pretty important men in my lifetime. Doctors. Businessmen. Philanthropists. Men of high regard who built lives that most anyone would look at and say, “There’s a successful man.” 

My uncle Finley Fox, who I only ever called Junior, died on Friday. I flew in from Charlotte and was blessed to be there when he crossed over. This was his 83rd year alive. And for my own 55, he was always a part of it. Until Friday. 

During my flight I thought about him a lot. About how he was always a constant part of what we considered “core family.” 

A quiet, simple man, Uncle Junior always had this gentle smile that let you know that everything was going to be ok. He also had this brilliant way of simplifying things into black and white. Yes and no. Right and wrong. 

All of my earliest memories include Junior. Whether it was playing checkers, or hours of the card game “War,” or watching Star Trek—Junior was there. He was also there on a Christmas Day when I killed a mockingbird with my new bb gun in the meadow beyond our neighborhood. I was devastated. He walked back home with me in silence, and helped me bury the animal. 

Uncle Junior was not an important man by the judgement of the world. He was not a captain of industry or war hero. He never married.  He didn’t amass a pile of wealth. Hell, he never had a driver’s license.

But he was always there in his quiet way. With his gentle smile. 

And everyone who ever met him liked him. 


And in the end, despite his shortcomings on the scale by which we measure our lives, he was one of the most successful men I’ve ever known. 

He is survived by his sister, my mom, and many others who had the privilege of calling him family.



Killing the Clock

Jim Mitchem

Writer. Father to daughters. Husband. Ad man. Raised by wolves. @jmitchem on twitter. First novel, Minor King, out now.