by Henry Lane Hull
Twelve years ago our family enrolled in Mike Church’s beekeeping class that he taught at the Northumberland Public Library in Heathsville. Mike’s academic prowess is extraordinary, and granted that he had a hot topic, he was able to engage the entire class from our two B.E.s through several senior citizens. All of us were united in wanting to learn about apian science, and with that knowledge to try to assist our honey-maker friends in their plight facing Colony Collapse Disorder.
One of our most engaging classmates was Jim Eury, who avidly undertook the study anxious to do his part in fostering local beekeeping. Jim had moved to the Northern Neck a few years earlier after a multi-faceted career in television journalism as a war correspondent during the Vietnam struggle and later as a physical therapist.
Jim was a Tarheel, a graduate of the University of North Carolina, who became fluent in Thai and Laotian during his Army service while a student at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California. He served in Vietnam, then as a broadcast journalist with NBC News during which period he received an Emmy for his coverage of racism during the war. Later he received a Peabody Award for his coverage of the Philadelphia Orchestra’s visit to China.
Over a decade later he left the world of television to begin the study of physical therapy. After graduation, he worked at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington and, following his move to Lottsburg, at The Orchard in Warsaw. In the Northern Neck, Jim returned to the world of photography in which capacity our paths crossed again three years ago when he photographed the members of the Master Gardener training class where his wife, Carolyn Gorman, had been one of the class mentors.
At that time I was surprised to see him using oxygen due to a breathing ailment. We spoke of our bee pursuits, his having been far more successful than ours. He was optimistic that, despite the difficulties facing our pollinating friends, we would experience success in rejuvenating their hives across the Northern Neck. I told him that our own two hives had not fared well, one dying out in the first winter and the other a few months later, despite our fastidiously having fed them in the cold months.
Jim was undaunted by the problem and resolute in wanting to see success. Unfortunately, in our case the hives were too close to crops that required spraying for their own survival, which mitigated against further placement in the area. Jim had truly insatiable intellectual curiosity that led him to want to master every aspect of a situation. Colony Collapse Disorder was but one of another of the crises he witnessed and recorded. He may not have received an Emmy or a Peabody for that coverage, but he applied himself with equal vigor.
In the highest and most noble meaning of the term, Jim was a modest person, one who was more interested in others than in focusing on his own stellar achievements. I knew him as a beekeeper and the Master Gardener photographer. I learned of the multitude of his other accomplishments after his death last January. When we spoke, his interests were on our bees, the two B.E.s and preserving our habitat, not on himself.
Jim gave of himself until the very end of his life. Whether as a war journalist, an inspiring photographer, or a prodigious beekeeper, he contributed constantly and consistently of his time and talent. The Northern Neck, his patients, the organizations for which he volunteered, and our bees are better for his efforts.
James Robert Eury, died January 2, 2019. R.I.P.