Thoughts for Jim Parsons

Dear all, you will have seen the sad news of Jim Parson’s untimely passing.

We will be sending a card to his family so folks in Tucson: I will be doing the rounds on Wednesday and/or come to my office and find it on my desk if I don’t catch you.

Folks elsewhere - I will sign your name (only) on the physical card if you reply to this topic as there is unlikely to be space for much more. If you wish to express additional sentiments / share anecdotes and so on, please reply to this topic and @mbutlerncsa will print it out and make sure it gets to Jim’s colleagues and family (you can also email her directly if you would prefer to do so privately).

If you feel personally or culturally inhibited from adding your name here, please do not feel pressured to do so; let me assure you that the card will express condolences from all of DM, and your good thoughts are sufficient.

PS. You can also like this post and I’ll get your name from there.


Jim had a big heart and was a dedicated, knowledgeable, and ever-willing colleague. He could be funny at times; he could stress out about relatively minor things at times because he cared so much about getting things right; he could be humble at times even when his many years of relevant experience ought to have led him to claim the respect due a master. I regret making him type so much in Slack when he communicated more efficiently via voice, but at the same time, I’m glad to have a written record of some of our interactions to remember him by. I’m thankful to have had a chance to work with him, and I will miss him terribly.

I wasn’t lucky enough to work closely with Jim, so I didn’t know him terribly well. However, one particular incident sticks in my mind. I was going through one of my periodic bouts of Jira housekeeping: making sure tickets are assigned to appropriate teams, are in the right epics, and so on. Most people ignore me when I do this; a few grumble that I’m shifting things under them. Jim reached out — could he help? How could he learn about the process, so I didn’t have to go to the trouble next time? It was a small incident, but it speaks to a level of helpfulness and receptiveness that most of us can only aspire to.

I didn’t have the opportunity to work that closely with Jim on the project, crossing paths mostly on Slack. He had a sly sense of humor that I very much appreciated! There were a couple occasions where we did speak at all-hands meetings, and in person he had a very warm and generous nature.

Here is the obit that his mother posted to her local paper:
--------------------------- James Benson Parsons IV

James Benson Parsons IV, age 60 of Champaign, Illinois, passed

away suddenly December 1, 2018.

James (Jim) was born in St. Louis, Missouri on February 11, 1958 to James and Catherine (Kitty) nee Moon.

He was a Senior Research Programmer and lead Programmer for the image capture team for the LSST telescope to be installed in Chile, at University of Illinois/NCSA in Champaign.

Jim is survived by his sons James B. Parsons V and Nathaniel Addison Parsons of Champaign.

His parents and sister Christina Parsons all of Washington. Nephew Daniel L. Parsons of

Massachusetts and niece Erika B. Haydon of Wentzville, Aunts Shirley Ritcher and Joyce Cotner,

cousins and many friends and co workers he held in high esteem.

He was proceeded in death by his grandparents and his brother Donald Lexie Parsons of Massachusetts
July 17, 2018.

Memorials can be made to the American Heart or American Cancer Societies.

Memorials will be in Champaign and Washington at a later date.

I met Jim through my involvement with the Early Integration Activities. He possessed a great deal of domain knowledge, humble in the application of that knowledge, was a tenacious problem solver, was always willing to go that extra mile to ensure things were done right and a pleasant person to interact with. I enjoyed my interactions with him as part of the EIA work and also in our discussions on a wide range of topics. He will be sorely missed as we move forward, but he has left an indelible mark on what we have accomplished.

I first met Jim about two years when I traveled to Illinois for an early Pathfinder activity. At that workshop, everyone introduced themselves and said what they did on the project. I introduced myself as the T&S Software Test Engineer. During a break, Jim pulled me aside and told me how much he respected my profession and the job that we do. He expressed how glad he was that LSST had someone like me on the team and how he looked forward to working with me. We worked together on the Pathfinder activities for the next two years and I greatly respected Jim’s advice and help. He always did his work with the goal of making the project better. I will miss him.