ForeverMissed
James C. Pirius, of Alexandria, VA, a globetrotting Red Wing, MN, native, figure-skating enthusiast and retired education lobbyist, died on June 16, 2020, at his winter home in Bonita Springs, FL. The embodiment of “Midwest Nice,’’ Jim was 73.

Jim was generous, hardworking, optimistic and gregarious. His friendships spanned decades and continents. Wherever he went, Jim radiated warmth, good cheer, and a love of life, which instantly drew people to him. 

All who knew Jim will miss his sunny outlook, infectious laugh, and penchant for hyperbolic storytelling. 

Jim often said that he had been privileged to live a wonderful life. We who knew and loved Jim were privileged to have him in our lives for so long.

If you’d like to make a donation in his memory, please consider The Rodham Institute; www.smhs.gwu.edu. Jim was a long-time supporter of the Rodham Institute which seeks to apply the transformative power of education to achieve health equity in Washington, D.C.



Posted by Allyson Nerf on July 10, 2020
Jim will be missed by everyone he crossed paths with. Some will miss his funny humor, bubbly personality, kindness and all the shenanigans he pulled. I look back and can only be thankful for the time I got to spend with Jim. He made every holiday eventful, every trip adventurous and every conversation meaningful. Jim loved games and always wanted to be the winner even if that means competing against me on who loved Cesar salad more. He loved traveling and I got to spend many of my travels with him. From the beaches of Maui to Venice canals. Jim will always be on my mind and I will never forget the memories we made. I am forever grateful for the time I spent with him.
Posted by Deborah Sliz on July 8, 2020
Jim and I were friends for forty years, dating from 1979, when I worked for Rep. Mo Udall (D-AZ) and Jim worked for Rep. Bruce A. Vento (D-MN). ( Jim always referred to his boss as “Bruce A. Vento” - never “my boss,” or “Bruce” or “Mr. Vento.” It was one of his many memorable terms of phrase.)

We met at an Orioles game that fall and instantly clicked, despite a stupid gaffe I made about his boss, a story that Jim told and retold many times during the decades of our friendship. We shared a fierce interest in politics, baseball, golf (until I got frustrated and quit), bridge (until I got frustrated and quit), croquet (Minnesota Rules when we played at West Boulevard), playing Words with Friends online, and talking and laughing about anything and everything.

Jim celebrated every aspect of life (“Isn’t that FABULOUS!!??) and celebrated his friends, often ascribing to us accolades ( “ He or she is the BEST at X, Y, or Z.”) that we didn’t deserve. He reveled in the details of escapades and stories from our years of friendship, which we savored as memories over and over....with a little embellishment each time.

Whenever I (or after 2004, we) had friends in town, Jim would say, “Bring them down to swim and a cookout” - unfailingly generous and hospitable, and loving meeting new people, especially friends of friends.

The friendship among Jim, Eric, my husband, Alan and I was sealed with our visit to their gorgeous condo in Waileia, Maui in 2015. The four of us got along beautifully and easily, and it was a real bonding experience for all of us. One day we went zip-lining near a pineapple plantation - gorgeous views and three of us had fun. Jim bailed out after about four stops, though, saying he would rather spend $90 on a steak and lobster dinner than having his crotch throttled by the zip line harness for an hour.

Jim loved fine hotels, fine restaurants, and fine amenities. His idea of camping, he often said, was staying at a Holiday Inn. His appreciation for luxury travel increased significantly when Eric took over planning their many wonderful vacations abroad, including Jim’s memorable 70th birthday bash In London.

Jim was a very, very dear friend. I love him and miss him keenly. ❤️

Posted by Laurey Stryker on July 5, 2020
I met Jim in 1980's when he began a long career representing Florida education with Congress. Linda Davis had recommended him to Betty Castor as our federal rep and we were sold within the first few minutes. Jim was passionate about kids and educational opportunity and a tremendous asset to Florida higher education. Our friendship went way beyond our professional work. He was a friend to my family helping Erin and Allan choose their first Alexandria home and keeping up with them. Charlie and I played golf with Jim who as you know was always trying to perfect his game. He was a great dancer and in great demand at weddings and parties including our recent 50th anniversary bash. Over the past years, we loved catching up with Eric and Jim with a reunion lunch. He kept his friends connected and we were fortunate to be in his very big friendship circle. I always loved talking with Jim about politics and life. The night before he died we had a call. We talked about the blessing of Eric in his life. He told me about his pool workouts and the dimming prospects for the miracle we all hoped for. Whenever I think about Jim, I'll see the open smile and sincere interest in others he always shared.  
Posted by Andrew Price on July 3, 2020
We first met our dear Jim and Eric on a wonderful cruise in 2011. HRH (Louisa) and I thought we had walked onto the set of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Paul Newman and Robert Redford on our little cruise. Cocktails and partying with them was the best and of course Jim was so eloquently spoken with an adjective for everything - Such as one morning recounting the story of a blocked and overflowing toilet on one of the decks, which was summarised as an"Utter Catastrophe".

He used that term quite a lot to explain Carrot Tops election win or the stock markets movements.

We became brothers from another mother and shared many experiences, in the UK, Australia, Maui or Virginia. We visited and both made trips to Australia, in fact big bro harboured a passion to move down under and live in Australia.

Jim and I could sit and watch HRH and Eric shop away, taking in the views but not spending up. In fact like big bro, I was banned from putting things in the trolley (you know what I mean Eric), although we did sneak one or two things in, until the checkout of course.

Jim was so generous and kind and knew everything about our families, lives and daily routines. He made a point of knowing. I guess that's the lobbyist for you.

We shared key milestone birthdays and always had a plan for the next trip. He was a mentor, advisor, guide and a really top bloke and I loved him dearly. He took me to my first baseball game and scored top seats at the Orioles, shared a hot dog and a beer and paid Eric's speeding fine, much to the delight of Jim (that is that Eric was driving).

Big bro was invited to Lucy (HRH's daughter) wedding with Eric but due to health could not make it. That didn't stop them playing a huge role though, with skype videos, a run through all the photos and a generous gift.

I know big bro is in heaven now, that's where top blokes end up, watching over their flocks and continuing to shepherd us through life. Our time will come again soon but for now, it's an utter catastrophe down here without you Jim........

Love small bro Andy
Posted by Stephen DeWitt on June 29, 2020
Jim was one of my first bosses in DC and really helped launch my career path. Not only that, his insistence that I purchase a condo early in life allowed me to live comfortably today and avoid the wrong side of the housing boom when DC prices went soaring - I've thought about setting up a Pirius shrine for that reason alone!

Jim had a kind heart and was fun loving. My friends and I remember when he paid me $60 (I think that was the amount) to clean his desk - we laughed about that for a long time. I'm sure he was just trying to find a way to give me a bit of a bonus in those early days and it was a lot of money back then. I will always remember his easy-going attitude and welcoming presence.

I reconnected with Jim a few years ago - I honestly can't event remember how but he visited me at my current office and we caught up, reminisced old times and discussed getting together again. Unfortunately, that never happened which reminds me to seize the moments and enjoy each other while there is time. RIP dear Jim!
Posted by Jeff Muir on June 27, 2020
Jim was quite simply one of the very very best people I have had the pleasure of knowing. We had great times- watching Obama getting elected ( while Jim cooked steaks), creating a true federal relations program at USF and then for the SUS, and crazy times with the bid bid protest! He loved to bring my kids presents and they still remember him warmly. Even let me use his Hawaii condo-who even does that? Jim did. God bless and I will see you later Bro!
Posted by Ron Nerf on June 27, 2020
Jim was part of our family. He was great to talk with and had a special light .He has a beautiful soul. I miss him
Posted by Suzanne Blue on June 26, 2020
Jim Pirius was a supporter and protector of his family and the monumental best big brother Carol could have - or anyone, for that matter. I know how generous and mischievous he could be to the enjoyment of all friends and family and probably in his work. We will all miss him, and My thoughts are especially with you, Eric, as Jim’s support and in your loss.
Posted by Spencer B on June 26, 2020
So many aspects of my/our Uncle Jim:

High standards while prioritizing enjoyment and good humor.

Happy and supportive, but also with an “Oh come on, [your name]” benevolent corrective if you got too far off the rails.

A self-aware mischievousness, e.g. entertaining theories, but with a point to impart.

Fair - if inscrutable - croquet judge, when he wasn’t beating us, which he did too often.

Famously and hilariously blunt. e.g. "These ribs aren't good" on our last trip.

Great storyteller, even if (rightly) about you being a bratty kid.

Magnanimous with his time, caring, and effort: discussions of stocks and politics; helping pick out apartment furnishings; many golf outings and family gatherings.

Motivated without taking himself too seriously.

Self-directed and not complacent - house arrangements or portfolios.

Curiosity to keep learning and be well-informed.

He held serious views but didn’t let differences override relationships.

Productive without being materialistic. And generous without expectation.

A great approach to aspire to, but irreplaceably unique.

I will miss talking and being with him so much. And (selfishly) his interest and affection, and enjoying trying to make him proud.
Posted by Linda Gottleber on June 25, 2020
Dearest Eric,
We are so very saddened to hear of Jim’s passing this week. Our hearts truly ache for you. You were the best pair, you complimented each other in so many ways. Eric, your love and support was his rock. You are so fortunate to have shared all those years together and to have found your very best mate in the world. Hang in there, these are hard times for you, try dwelling on all the many wonderful smiling memories you had together. We will never forget Jim's quit wit and amazing handsome big smile! He was the best and so are you! Our most sincere condolences.
Love, Linda & Don Gottleber
Posted by J Genshaft on June 25, 2020
Jim Pirius will always be remembered for his tremendous legacy, productiveness and success while working with the University of South Florida. I was fortunate to meet Jim when I became President of USF 20 years ago. He served as the key political liaison for our great institution in Washington, DC. He truly made a difference to increase the research, teaching and service mission by connecting our initiatives with those members of the United States House and Senate. Because of Jim’s wonderful positive personality, his organizational skills, tremendous productive relationships and hard work, he would help USF direct its research initiatives in priority order that would match those of the Congressional delegation. As a result, Jim was highly respected by all who worked with him, especially Congressman Bill Young, Congresswoman Kathy Castor and others. He was primarily responsible for facilitating the significant “jump start” and increase our overall research profile in a way that was unique, important and long lasting. Because of his initial work, USF researchers were able to apply for and bid on additional competitive national grants that met national demands.
  Jim was a delight and a fun loving individual who cared deeply about others. He always had a smile and was open and respectful to all those he interacted with. He was able to negotiate various differing opinions and collaborate to build consensus. He was proud of his family, loved ones and friends. It truly is important to celebrate Jim Pirius, his legacy and his many life contributions. He will be missed but always be regarded with great admiration and love.
Posted by Kate Nerf on June 24, 2020
My Uncle Jim...
He was always the most stylish in a room; he could dress up a t-shirt like nobody’s business. He was the most caring; he always wanted to know what we’ve been up to and how our life was going and he genuinely listened and cared. He was hilarious. My favorite memory of Jim was during dinner in the Outer Banks as he grew more and more frustrated trying to open and eat a crab (in a room of people from Maryland) he went to eat the intestines and Uncle Eric reached over and smacked it out of his hand real quick before he could get it to his mouth. Jim threw the rest of the crab down and yelled about how barbaric the whole process was! We all sat there in complete silence for about 15 seconds in shock, before bursting into laughter and being like “oh Jim!”. He was my cruise buddy when we would sneak off from the others. He was my personal proof reader on all my papers during high school and college. I will forever be thankful for the many years we had with him and the true joy he added to all of our lives.
Posted by Lynda Davis on June 22, 2020
Our dear, extraordinary, intelligent, generous, debonair, humorous, story-telling and always loving "Uncle Bim" leaves another bottomless hole in our hearts. He is such a big part of our history and is irreplaceable.

Jim greeted me in Washington, D.C. in 1980. He was in turn or successively, was my boss, my colleague, my advisor, my teacher, our match-maker and landlord, my wedding advisor, my devoted "brother", our political-debater, and above all - the loving Godfather to my three children.

A devoted and appreciative partner to Eric, he was likewise as a son, brother, cousin, Godfather, uncle, and friend. Our dear "Uncle Bim" was a gift to our multi-generational family and hundreds far and wide around the world.

His legacy is first and foremost love and support for family and friends and mentor ship to youth and younger adults. His effective advocacy leaves accomplishments that include large scale improvements for health care, education and the environment. 

His presence touched all he encountered in a positive way and his energy contributed significantly to a more positive world. We will honor his life by carrying on his example. 

With respect, gratitude and love, we will forever cherish our "Uncle Bim". Lynda Davis

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Recent Tributes
Posted by Allyson Nerf on July 10, 2020
Jim will be missed by everyone he crossed paths with. Some will miss his funny humor, bubbly personality, kindness and all the shenanigans he pulled. I look back and can only be thankful for the time I got to spend with Jim. He made every holiday eventful, every trip adventurous and every conversation meaningful. Jim loved games and always wanted to be the winner even if that means competing against me on who loved Cesar salad more. He loved traveling and I got to spend many of my travels with him. From the beaches of Maui to Venice canals. Jim will always be on my mind and I will never forget the memories we made. I am forever grateful for the time I spent with him.
Posted by Deborah Sliz on July 8, 2020
Jim and I were friends for forty years, dating from 1979, when I worked for Rep. Mo Udall (D-AZ) and Jim worked for Rep. Bruce A. Vento (D-MN). ( Jim always referred to his boss as “Bruce A. Vento” - never “my boss,” or “Bruce” or “Mr. Vento.” It was one of his many memorable terms of phrase.)

We met at an Orioles game that fall and instantly clicked, despite a stupid gaffe I made about his boss, a story that Jim told and retold many times during the decades of our friendship. We shared a fierce interest in politics, baseball, golf (until I got frustrated and quit), bridge (until I got frustrated and quit), croquet (Minnesota Rules when we played at West Boulevard), playing Words with Friends online, and talking and laughing about anything and everything.

Jim celebrated every aspect of life (“Isn’t that FABULOUS!!??) and celebrated his friends, often ascribing to us accolades ( “ He or she is the BEST at X, Y, or Z.”) that we didn’t deserve. He reveled in the details of escapades and stories from our years of friendship, which we savored as memories over and over....with a little embellishment each time.

Whenever I (or after 2004, we) had friends in town, Jim would say, “Bring them down to swim and a cookout” - unfailingly generous and hospitable, and loving meeting new people, especially friends of friends.

The friendship among Jim, Eric, my husband, Alan and I was sealed with our visit to their gorgeous condo in Waileia, Maui in 2015. The four of us got along beautifully and easily, and it was a real bonding experience for all of us. One day we went zip-lining near a pineapple plantation - gorgeous views and three of us had fun. Jim bailed out after about four stops, though, saying he would rather spend $90 on a steak and lobster dinner than having his crotch throttled by the zip line harness for an hour.

Jim loved fine hotels, fine restaurants, and fine amenities. His idea of camping, he often said, was staying at a Holiday Inn. His appreciation for luxury travel increased significantly when Eric took over planning their many wonderful vacations abroad, including Jim’s memorable 70th birthday bash In London.

Jim was a very, very dear friend. I love him and miss him keenly. ❤️

Posted by Laurey Stryker on July 5, 2020
I met Jim in 1980's when he began a long career representing Florida education with Congress. Linda Davis had recommended him to Betty Castor as our federal rep and we were sold within the first few minutes. Jim was passionate about kids and educational opportunity and a tremendous asset to Florida higher education. Our friendship went way beyond our professional work. He was a friend to my family helping Erin and Allan choose their first Alexandria home and keeping up with them. Charlie and I played golf with Jim who as you know was always trying to perfect his game. He was a great dancer and in great demand at weddings and parties including our recent 50th anniversary bash. Over the past years, we loved catching up with Eric and Jim with a reunion lunch. He kept his friends connected and we were fortunate to be in his very big friendship circle. I always loved talking with Jim about politics and life. The night before he died we had a call. We talked about the blessing of Eric in his life. He told me about his pool workouts and the dimming prospects for the miracle we all hoped for. Whenever I think about Jim, I'll see the open smile and sincere interest in others he always shared.  
his Life

Travel and Real Estate Mogul

Jim loved travelling. He and Eric often visited Europe and other parts of the world, celebrating his 70th birthday in grand style in London with friends from his journeys. 

Jim also loved to be at home, whether on West Boulevard in Alexandria, in Bonita Springs, or at a third home on Lake Boca in Boca Raton. For many years, Jim and Eric owned a home and wintered in Maui, and he often mused about whether they should buy another place in Hawaii, too. 

Education Advocate

After graduating from the University of Minnesota with a B.A. in Political Science and Journalism, Jim taught middle school in Illinois. He returned to Minnesota after several years of teaching to become the Chief Public Information Officer for the Minnesota Senate.

In 1977, Jim’s dreams came true and he moved to Washington, D.C. to work for Rep. Bruce F. Vento (D-MN), rising to be top political advisor. After leaving Capitol Hill, Jim served as President Carter’s first Director of Legislative Policy for the U.S. Department of Education. Remaining in Washington, D.C., Jim then began his long-standing relationship with the State of Florida by becoming the Federal Liaison for Florida Education Commissioner Betty Castor.

Jim left government in 1996 to become a lobbyist for higher education clients at APCO Worldwide. In 1999, he established his own federal relations firm, JCP Associates, and for many years represented Florida’s state university system before Congress and the Executive branch.

Redwing Native

Jim’s late parents, Clifford and Margery Pirius, raised him and his late sister, Carol Ann, to love the ice. Jim was always seeking friends to watch competitive skating and ice dancing with him on TV or at the rink. He brought that same passion to golf. 
Recent stories

Circle of Trust Activist​

Shared by Jane Nerf on June 28, 2020
Aside from Jim’s admirable career, his philanthropy, and his impeccable appearance, our family will fondly remember Jim for his humor, mischievousness, generosity and unconditional love. Jim was tightly woven in to our family fabric.Many Thanksgiving dinners, Christmas Days and family vacations hold stories, repeated by or involving Jim, that bring endless laughter and smiles.

The grandest of those memories being our Washington DC tour, “Nerfs at the Middle of the Earth” Mediterranean cruise, trip to Maui, and our Outer Banks’ beach house rental. They were “hmmm, fabulous”!

But aside from the grand, Jim had a way of orchestrating simple good times and making a special connection with everyone despite geographical distance or generational gaps.We will miss Jim’s engaging political discussions, “Words with Friends” competitions, learning how to play Bridge, Scattergories, golf games, bocce ball, Croquet, whipped cream fights, “who eats the most Caesar salads” photo competition, beer “foodle”, and the “I’m James to you”, “fatso”, and “the circle of trust” story telling. We’ll miss his genuine interest and intent listening to our children’s life and love stories. We’ll miss his bright smile, enthusiasm, and comfortable demeanor. We will miss the wholeness he brought to Eric.

We are so blessed for having shared our earthly time together, you’re forever in our hearts. Until we meet again my friend, rest in heavenly peace. XOXO

Paul Newman Look-a-Like

Shared by Lynda Davis on June 23, 2020
Tall, blond, blue-eyed and handsome, Jim was often told that he looked like a taller Paul Newman, which delighted him.

Many of us heard Jim’s story – sometimes more than once – of meeting Joan Rivers in the lounge of a Vermont resort, where she said, “Paul Newman, I didn’t know you were here too.” Some versions of this story had them playing darts in the club room. Jim won, of course. 

His friendship, my family

Shared by Betty Castor on June 24, 2020
Jim was not only my professional colleague, but a wonderful friend and great supporter.  The stories of his work with the Florida Department of Education are legend!  Although his primary role was to help with federal funding, our team in Tallahassee often convinced him to "work" our Florida legislators.  We sent him to see the Chair of the Appropriations Committee to convince him that we needed a Florida license plate to support our veterans for teachers program.  The program never passed and the mock up of the license plate has long since been buried.  Jim never really forgave us for volunteering him for that assignment.
I shall never forget the year that Florida's teacher was named the Teacher of the Year.  Eight of us descended on Jim's beautiful home.  The big issue was not his outstanding hospitality, but the fact that the five women staying with him had TP issues (ran out)!!
Over the years, Jim became a good friend to my children.  He helped Frank receive a summer job in DC - and looked after him.  When Kathy won her Congressional race, Jim hosted the entire contingent of Tampa campaign folks.  Jim was USF's outstanding federal liaison.  He served us well in so many capacities.  He will be missed by his Tampa family.