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In Memoriam: John Solomon

November 3, 2010

The obituaries keep coming in. John Solomon has died. After valiantly battling leukemia, he succumbed on Monday, November 1, 2010. He will be missed.

I met John online. He started a blog called In Case of Emergency, Read Blog to help with research for a book he was doing on personal preparedness. His and my blog had the same title; both being focused, to some extent, on preparedness issues, it was inevitable that we’d meet.

I grew to love his posts. I said so frequently.

I grew to admire his zeal. I strive to replicate it, though worry that no one can.

I never met John. He never knew my real name. I worry that cheapened our relationship. Who wants to be friends with a character from an old Clash song?

If I know anything about John Solomon, it was that he loved his family and he loved his work. In my mind, the indelible image of John is a fuzzy profile picture of him in his CERT gear, arm around his daughter.

I’m crying for a man I never knew, and who never knew me.

But I know his passion and I feel the same. I envy, “his willingness to offer candid assessments of where we stood as a country as far as preparedness, and … his honest feedback about … FEMA,” as no less than FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said in an official statement on Tuesday.

I know the world is poorer for having lost John, but is the world poorer for not knowing Jim Garrow? I’m not vain enough to think that I’ve had the same impact as John did, but I am pragmatic enough to know that Jimmy Jazz will never change the world.

I’m not saying what I’m going to say in some misguided attempt to replace John. I could never do that, and truthfully, I have no desire to do that. I hate to tie the two statements together, but the first has lead me to the second.

I said before that I envied John’s passion. More specifically, I envy John’s passions. His dual passions, preparedness and family. His ability to do both, be both. I want that.

My kids can’t be proud of the work that Jimmy Jazz has done. My kids can’t be proud of someone who is cowed because someone someday might disagree with something he’s written.

I’m proud of the content of this blog. I stand by it all. All.

My kids should know what their Dad does, because I don’t know what’s coming. I don’t know how much time I’ve got (not that I’m planning to go anywhere). Life is too short.

My name is Jim Garrow. I work at the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. Nothing I’ve ever written here has been vetted, reviewed or approved by my work. None of this is the official or unofficial policy of the Health Department.

That said, I’m closing this blog.

I originally started this blog to learn about public health preparedness. I think I’ve accomplished that. So, why keep doing this? I can’t answer that question anymore.

So, how about a fresh start? I’ve started a blog over at Posterous. Focused on public information, risk communication and crisis communication, and some public health preparedness. If you’re interested, check out

Thank you for everything you’ve done with me. Thank you, John, for helping me to be a better man.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. November 3, 2010 12:52 pm

    Thank you for posting, it no doubt has effected everyone in some profound way, even those of us who knew him virtually for a relatively short time.

    Thoughts and prayers are with all . . .

  2. Meredith Li-Vollmer permalink
    November 4, 2010 12:08 pm

    Jim, you should be proud of this blog. It’s one of the few that I ever read avidly, and I value your insight as someone in the trenches, like me. I look forward to following your new blog. Congratulations on your new start.

  3. Ralph Dutcher permalink
    November 4, 2010 8:00 pm

    Jim Garrow, aka Jimmy Jazz

    I have only actually spoken to you a few times. I have been a reader of the this blog and an admirer of your work to enhance Public Health Preparedness. We share our grief over the passing of John Solomon, one who contributed much to the field of preparedness that means so much to both of us.
    Your work and John’s has been the source of much of what I, and I am sure that many others, have read about what we should do to prepare and protect what we hold dear.
    Thank you for this work.
    When I read Craig Fugate’s e-mail today that told of John Solomon’s death I was moved. Your fine article spoke to me because I never had the chance to meet him except by e-mail. The eloquent feelings that you expressed are a tribute to both of you.
    Best wishes for your new blog. I’ll be a regular reader.
    Ralph Dutcher

  4. April 12, 2011 6:51 pm

    Please tell me it worked right? I dont desire to sumit it once more if i don’t have to! Either the blog glitced out or i am an idiot, the second alternative doesnt surprise me lol. thanks to your very good blog!

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