Featuring: Jim Luter
Forever Friend, Stalwart Guardian, Storyteller
When it comes to Jim Luter, I don’t even know where to start. He came to the rescue many times over during the early days of Story Crossroads and even before the inaugural festival in 2015 and onward to September 2021. He saw the ideas bouncing around and saw the potential and always encouraged me to reach the ultimate goal of World Story Crossroads, an Olympic-level version involving the six major continents. He has been the energy that fueled the times when I was excited, frustrated, or anxious.
He was “new” to storytelling though always a supporter of communications. Jim Luter spent 38 years teaching in, and chairing, the Speech Department at Los Angeles City College. When moving to Utah, he became the best of friends with John Adams. The two of them would rarely be seen without the other. I was privileged that both Jim and John served on the Story Crossroads Board.
Jim was equal to at least five people in how hard he worked.
Here is a sampling of what he did:
- Helped at many booths to promote Story Crossroads including our “biggest” one at the RootsTech Conference, the largest family history conference in the world
- Hosted several House Concerts at his Clubhouse that assisted in over a thousand dollars fundraised for Story Crossroads
- Became a certified Master Story Facilitator with 16-hour trainings…more than once due to loving to learn
- Taught many free 8-hour workshops at several senior centers – most famous at the Mt. Olympus Senior Center and the South Jordan Community Center – and did this as a volunteer and only accepted payment once but donated most back
- Connected with 16 senior centers throughout Salt Lake County to keep them in the loop, personally delivered posters/fliers at these centers, knew the directors
- Introduced and arranged for me to present at the South Jordan Arts Council meeting…leading for us to receive $5,000 and then received a couple more years of funding through SJAC
- Personally attended so many House Concerts, Virtual Workshops, Festivals – even came to the 2021 Story Crossroads Festival: The Hybrid and made an appearance at the Murray City Park
- Fantastic attendance and participation in Story Crossroads Board Meetings – and we always end our meetings with a story of which Jim did many times
- Attended many trainings and networking events either in my place or alongside – including Arts on the Hill (State Capitol) to lobby more funding for the arts
- Became one of the first dues-paying Story Crossroads members
I feel guilty to end the list there. What you see is only a hint of the hundreds upon hundreds of hours he dedicated to Story Crossroads. And that is over the course of about 10 years.
Jim surprised me one time in creating a poem on behalf of founding and dreams of Story Crossroads. Some of the best warm fuzzies came from that poem. In honor of his poem, I attempted one for Jim:
Stalwart and firm,
Determined and triumphant,
A man walks forward with faith.
Then embraced by story,
And then risen in glory,
Forevermore a person that shines.
I did get permission from his wife, Ruth, to post the following video links of Jim performing and conversing.
Jim tells a myth – as part of Story Crossroads Academy: https://youtu.be/bHHP_7GJPhs
Jim becomes the Shoemaker Elf for the 2020 Story Crossroads Spectacular, all-virtual: https://youtu.be/vajhKRNlYFw
Jim exchanges thoughts with Clive Romney: https://youtu.be/iJeMFnr9y3E
And what more can be said? Plenty.
I remember the most of when he stood by my side when I made the stupidest of mistakes regarding Story Crossroads. I met with Jim Luter and John Adams to share how I put Story Crossroads in danger. Unintentional, but still terrible. As I shared all the details, I awaited the disappointment. But none came. No, there was an increase of love. Both Jim and John stood by my side while I rectified the situation. They could then celebrate with me when amends were made.
It could have been the end of Story Crossroads. Yet, that love and devotion and the hope of what could be was what exuded from them.
Now look at Story Crossroads today. We have expanded programming, received consistent and increased funding, and reached out to multi-generations across cultures and languages.
If Jim – or John – had given up on me that day, I don’t know if I would have gotten past the dark times.
I learned that to err is human, and to forgive…well, that’s Jim and all the other kind people out there in the universe. And from failure come the greatest successes.
So thanks for always being there, Jim! Until we tell again!
And in case you want to learn more about Jim, here is his obituary: https://www.mcdougalfuneralhomes.com/obituary/james-luter?fbclid=IwAR157CG4v7FgErixehL2sLGDVHWAb1xqUIY6_5rcSlcfiNb59lDcnfWcrBI
Do you know a Story Artist who has passed on and want others to remember them? Memories? Pictures? You can submit names and memories of Story Artists who have passed on through our online form.
I appreciate Jim Luter for his ability to give and give and give and be there no matter the weather – rain or shine – and bring a bit of heaven on earth.
Jim still has a story. You have a story. We all have stories.