by Joe Blaes
On August 11, I received a call from Brian Hufford, telling me that our good friend, Jim Pride, had died that morning. Thus ended a long struggle with cancer. Even though it was hard to let him go, I am sure that Jim is in a better place.
My mentor, Roy Wolff, first introduced me to Jim Pride in 1970. Jim was making a name for himself on the lecture circuit speaking about practice management. He had ideas that made a lot of sense and he was easy to listen to — a real storyteller. As his programs began to expand, he saw a need to help the dentist design an office that would be more efficient from the clinical side and easier to manage from the business side.
Jim began to take on the established equipment manufacturers and show on stage how their equipment made it harder for the dentist to practice. He popularized the "power wall" in dentistry and encouraged change in equipment design and placement. The companies that he once fought with began to come around with new and fresh approaches in equipment. At the same time, he was teaching dentists to establish systems to manage the business of dentistry.
I really got to know Jim when I became a member of the American Academy of Dental Practice Administration. He always was quite approachable, even though he had become a big name on the circuit. He was willing to listen to problems and suggest (strongly) solutions. I probably learned more in sessions at and after dinner, as we sat in groups discussing solutions that worked well in our practices.
Jim called to congratulate me when I was named editor of Dental Economics. He quickly accepted my offer to write for the magazine. He contributed many great articles, and we often met to discuss ideas for new ones.
Over the years, Jim and I became closer. Jim introduced me to a unique organization called the "Summit." This group was made up of dental industry CEOs and presidents and some prominent dentists who met four times a year to discuss how dentistry should respond to managed care. They were exciting meetings and an opportunity to interact with some of the leaders of dentistry.
Jim established the Pride Institute to teach a year-long course to dentists on how to be more successful in practice. Many dentists have been positively impacted by the courses at the Institute.
Jim's other love was the land. He and his wife, Carolyn, bought vineyards on the top of a mountain in 1990, and created the Pride Mountain Vineyards. They produce some of the best Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chardonnay wines. Their wines have won many awards over the years. Jim seemed to be the happiest talking about his wines.
I will never forget my first visit to the winery. Jim and Carolyn invited Sue and me to spend a couple of days with them. When we arrived on a sunny October Sunday afternoon, it was grape-picking time. We found Jim crushing grapes in his newly installed equipment, surrounded by walls, but no roof. Jim was literally up to his arms in grapes as he helped in the process. That trip was full of great memories for us.
On August 16, I returned to the winery for a Celebration of the Life of James Randolph Pride. It was a sad trip because of the loss of a dear friend. It was a small gathering of friends in a special area of the winery known as "The Grove." Here, friends gathered to reflect on Jim's life and to say their farewells. It was a moving celebration remembering the best of Jim. My heartfelt sympathy goes out to Carolyn and their children and grandchildren.
Next month, we will feature an article as a tribute to Jim. As I was writing these notes, I kept hearing the words of a hymn, "On Eagles Wings," in my head. I know that God has raised Jim up. "And He will raise you up on eagle's wings, bear you on the breath of dawn, make you to shine like the sun, and hold you in the palm of His hand."
Joe Blaes, DDS, Editor — email: email@example.com
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