DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me — Thinking Of Jim Penwarden

I ran across this photo the other day of James F. Penwarden, my friend and former colleague at the University of North Dakota. He died Jan. 21, 2012.

Jim is pictured above in the old days, when neither of us had yet heard of a desktop computer. Editing typewritten copy was done the old-fashioned way, with a pencil or pen.

I’ve been thinking of Jim lately. We took early retirement from the university on the same day in 2005. We had been a team since the early 1970s, me as director of public relations, Jim as associate director.

A heavy smoker, Jim died of lung cancer. I was traveling out of state and unable to return for his funeral.

But a few days before the end, I had been in Grand Forks and called him at the hospital, offering to drop by. He thanked me, but said he was tied up with treatments.

My guess is he wished to spare me the sight of his suffering.

I first met Jim in a freshman Spanish class at the university. He was a year ahead of me, a straight A student who earlier had declined a full scholarship to St. John’s University (back in the day when the smartest Irish Catholic kids who went there were expected to become priests).

He was a bonafide BMOC (Big Man On Campus) — for example, serving as editor of the Dakota Student newspaper.

I admired him then and later for his personality, work ethic and kind heart sometimes disguised with a gruff exterior. And also for his success with women that endured to the end.

As I advance into old age, I find myself hoping there is truth to the notion an afterlife exists. There is much to tell Jim about what’s been going on at UND and in the world since he left us.

Although, come to think of it, he likely already knows.

2 thoughts on “DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me — Thinking Of Jim Penwarden”

  • Barbara ogle August 30, 2016 at 2:55 pm

    Hi Dave: blast from your past: barb ogle here! Looked u up on Internet and there u were, looking just the same. I am living nearby in Plymouth. Would u like to meet for lunch sometime in September. So much to catch up on and it would be wonderful to see u. Email is
    uncomadorn@mac.com. Phone is 320-250-5495. This week is shot, having a colonoscopy (can’t wait) and running up to Sauk centre on Friday. I think of u often and remember the St. Cloud days! Xo Barb

  • Dave Vorland August 31, 2016 at 10:18 am

    Hi Barb! I’m going to be out of town in Chicago for a few days, but will be in touch when I get back. Looking forward to seeing you again after all these years. All the best, Dave. My email is david_vorland@yahoo.com


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