A good, sweet man passed away this morning – James Epps. James was a security guard for many years at Wyeth. He was there for as long as I can remember – I’m not sure if he was there before me or came just after I started, but he was definitely a constant smiling face for most, if not all of the 23 years I have worked there. James retired a few years ago and then was back at the front gate waving and smiling at us as we arrived each morning. I have missed seeing him and am so sad to hear of the news of his passing. I didn’t know James outside of work, but he was a kind, sweet man who left fond memories with me that will last forever.
Back in the early days – when we were Praxis Biologics – there was only a handful of us that worked third shift. James was the night guard back then and he watched over us and made sure we were all safe and well as we rattled around in that big old building. He brought in birthday gifts on our special days and always had a story or a joke to help us pass the time. He was there to greet us when we arrived and sent us home with a smile and a wish for a great day when we left. Through the years, the mergers, the growth, he was still there smiling and offering a cheerful greeting.
But, I have a very special, personal memory of James that always warms my heart when I think of him. I will be forever grateful for his kindness and compassion one very late night on March 20, 1999. It was the day my Dad passed away. I found out late that Saturday afternoon and couldn’t get a flight out until the following morning. I packed and took care of things at the house and then I just sat in the living room staring at the walls and crying. I couldn’t sleep. I just sat there watching the clock for the time I could head to the airport. Finally, about 3:00 am, I decided to try to take my mind off things and went in to work to wrap up a few things, send some emails, and leave some notes for my staff and co-workers about things that I left undone that they should be aware of. When I arrived, James met me at the door and asked what in the world I was doing there at that hour! I told him that my Dad had passed away and I needed a distraction – it was the first time that I said it out loud and I started to cry and he hugged me and just let me lose it right there in the lobby! He walked me to my office, brought me some coffee, and checked on me every 1/2 hour or so to see if I was OK and to be sure I knew I was not alone! I will never forget him for many reasons, but this is the memory that shines through them all.
May you rest in peace, James Epps – I know the angels have a special place ready for you because they know, as we did, that you were a kind, sweet, good man! Farewell, my friend.