David Stone
Jim Bates with City Council Member Ben Kallos
Jim Bates with City Council Member Ben Kallos

On Saturday, November 11, 2017, Jim Bates, leader of the Roosevelt Island Disabled Association and an activist for the best in our community, died peacefully at home.

He succumbed to pancreatic cancer. Earlier this week, he left us an inspiring message.

Jim Bates's Inspiring Words for Roosevelt Island

"I serve because of the great life Jesus has given me for the last 40 years and for the remaining time I have until God takes me to my eternal home with Him," is the core of the message Jim Bates, Roosevelt Island's most familiar and passionate advocate for people with disabilities, publicly offered his many friends.

Jim's words, posted on Facebook, were sad, direct and brave:

"It has been 3 weeks since I was told that my chemotherapy will no longer be given to me," he wrote, "and now have become an at home Hospice patient given 6 months to a year to live."

Those who've been lucky to have been befriended by Jim would never expect him to leave it at that.

"As most of you know I put my life in God's hands and have a peace that passes all understanding," the leader of Roosevelt Island Disabled Association and FDR Hope Memorial was quick to add.

During his generous career as a man who lived and worked his beliefs, Jim Bates also served as manager of inner city food pantry partner relations for Cru, "a caring community passionate about connecting people to Jesus Christ."

For nearly 17 years, he served as Area Director for Chosen People Ministries.

"From when we first came here," reflects CBN/RI Senior Center Director Lisa Fernandez, "Jim was the easiest person to work with. We were able to work well with RIDA."

Jim also wanted his many friends to know they shouldn't be too concerned.

"I am being taken care of real good, and they are keeping me pain free."

Jim has handed over leadership of RIDA as well as the FDR Hope Memorial to Wendy Hersh whose already heavy workload of volunteering took a giant leap, picking up Jim Bates's legacy . 

Hersh sums up.

"I am honored to have been working with Jim over the last year and a half. Jim has been such an asset to our community as well as a great advocate for our neighbors with a disability.

"He has shown us that although a person may have a disability, they are perfectly able to accomplish much in their lifetime. He is a shining example of this.

"As the new president of the Roosevelt Island Disabled Association, I only hope that I can continue to carry out his vision as well as he did."

None of us are going to be a second Jim Bates. Maybe we can try to follow his very visible footsteps.