It would seem apropo to comment here.
Jim 'studied' with me. I was maybe 14 or 15, and he was probably 16. I had come from an 'inactive' family. Mom believed the WTS to be the truth, schooled us that way, but never got us to meetings much. Then along came Jimmy. He and I were positively great friends, or at least as 'great' of friends as one gets in the witness religion? He was a pioneer, and had grand plans to attend Bethel. It was, afterall, the Mecca of Jwland. He left for Bethel in late '72 or early '73.
I never knew for sure that he got back home - the AWOL incident was not ever mentioned by the family, or by anyone in the congregation. [Lift the carpet and sweep it under.] I saw him at Yankee Stadium for the 5 day International convention in 1973. That was the last time I saw him, alive or dead.
When he died, we were lead to believe that it was perhaps an accident, not suicide. That he was a 'shutterbug' and had perhaps climbed to the top of the building to take pictures, lost his balance and fell. It could have been. I don't know for sure of course. Though I was pretty close to the family, no one but the family went to the funeral in NY. I would have gone, but it did not feel like I was 'invited', so I stayed. He was buried in a plot in either Long Island, or perhaps as Newboy stated at the Farm property.
I thought the whole thing a bit odd. Why not bring him home? But then, I was young and I didn't know how these things worked.
The following year his brother went off to the Farm Bethel. He stayed for 7 years. By the time he returned, his folks had left the congregation to an area about 50 miles west of here, and that is the area in which he settled also with his newly acquired bride from Bethel. I would see them occasionally at Circuit Assemblies, as we shared the same circuit for a while. Jimmy's younger brother did not seem to be the same guy that left here though. He seemed haughty and disconnected, never happy. I think he had been a 'Bethel elder', that might have something to do with it.
As far as I know, Mom, Pop, and Little Brother are still active Jw's. They are nice people, whose life was turned upside down by the idea of loyalty to organization ahead of God.
Thanx, Newboy for the posting. I am glad we talked again about this yesterday on the phone, though today I find myself a bit melancholy to say the least.
I still miss Jim. I always will.