Jim Abernethy was a charismatic lover of life who made an impact on so many. Losing our dear Jim to Peripheral T-cell Lymphoma on December 5, 2019, a mere three months after diagnosis, is something his family, friends and colleagues still find impossible to believe. Married for 36 of his 61 years and a proud father of three daughters, family was always a big part of who he was.
Jim was our go-to person for advice. He kept us smiling and on the move. He loved to spend time hiking, skiing and travelling with us. Outings to the Blue Jays, Raptors, and Leafs were extra special when with him. He was always in-the-know about the latest team trades and player statistics. At home he was a real character. His many “Jim-isms” always made us laugh, and helped keep things in perspective, even during stressful times.
Jim always lived life to the fullest. When given the opportunity to try something new or head out on an adventure, he always replied… “I’m IN”. He was keen to take on new challenges, whether in sports, education or business. His competitive nature, drive and dedication not only led to many athletic, academic and professional successes, but also inspired those around him to get out there and enjoy life.
Hockey was Jim’s first passion, fuelling his love for competition at an early age. As a goaltender he thrived off the pressure and excitement of the game, but his plans for a career in hockey were derailed with an injury. So, he moved on. Transitioning from competitive hockey to a more recreational level meant he had time for many other activities. He joined squash clubs, was a regular at the Toronto Athletic Club, ran 10K races, competed in dragon boating, hiked the West Coast Trail (multiple times) joined a number of cycle clubs and eventually began annual trips to Spain with “the boys” to cycle in the mountains. In later years, Jim could often be found golfing at St. Georges Golf Club.
Although he kept busy with work and play, he spent a great deal of time giving back to others. In his early professional years, Jim volunteered evenings to work at free income tax clinics for those in need. He devoted countless hours of hockey coaching to his daughters’ teams and was a member of the board of governors for Junior Achievement. As a huge supporter of the Tour for Kids, Jim rode year after year on the multi-day cycling events and personally raised thousands of dollars dedicated to camps for kids with cancer. He was deeply moved by the personal stories of childhood cancers that were shared on these tours.
Jim had a successful career in the insurance industry. After more than 30 years with Marsh Canada, he retired as C.F.O. Just months after celebrating this milestone, Jim was diagnosed with Lymphoma. He faced this enormous challenge with the same strength and resolve that he did with everything he encountered in life. We miss him every single day, but we try to live by his example. We will strive to be dedicated, charitable, fun and ready to be “IN” for the next adventure. He was one of a kind.