A great spirit has left us. James Ewart Andrew Glendinning passed away Monday, May 21 after a battle with cancer. Veteran traveler, adventurer, author, he touched our lives with his unique and spirited approach to living and being a friend.
Born near Lockerbie, Scotland on December 16, 1937, Jim grew up on a sheep farm. His family has owned and operated their place - Over Cassock – for 200 years. Idyllic childhood days were tempered by boys’ boarding school at the prestigious Fettes College in Edinburgh. Cold showers, liberal canings, and seriously competitive sports (rugby) prepared the boys to be resilient and tough. University was Oxford, where he graduated in 1961. It was during a gap between high school and university that he took his first extended trip, hitchhiking to southern Europe and living cheaply for several months. That trip inspired a life focused on exploration and adventure. In the course of Jim’s long life he visited 136 countries, always traveling simply and sparely.
Jim came to live in the U.S. in 1961, eventually finding work in the travel industry. He became a citizen, living in New York, then the California Bay Area, punctuated by stints in the UK until he moved to Houston, from whence he discovered the Big Bend. Moving to Alpine in 1994, he opened the Corner House Bed and Breakfast which he operated for five years. Confounded by too much success, he sold it, switching to travel writing and guiding trips to Mexico and Scotland. Jim opened doors to a larger world for a lot of people.
Ever the Scot, Jim was known for his thrift. He lived cleanly, without fuss or luxury. The exception to this was his generosity to others: friends, family, and those in need. There was always enough to share, be it time to volunteer or pockets deep enough to give.
To know Jim was to love him. His dry wit, twinkling blue eyes, canny intelligence, and good heart were always apparent. If he ever lost his temper, there are few witnesses to report it.
But it was travel and adventure that sparked his passion. Even in declining health he scoured the internet for cheap flights and spun travel plans to exotic, sometimes outlandish destinations. Ethiopia was his last international sojourn, completed in November of last year when he was told he had just months to live. While there he was interviewed on national radio by a young host who was captivated by his stories.
We will miss you Glendinning. Though your family lived across the ocean and you had no children of your own, you gathered around you a core of loving admirers, and friends who would walk through fire for you. Truly, the mark of a life well lived lies in the testimonies and hearts of those left behind. Your throng pays ample homage to that truth. Fly high, and enjoy all the free travel!
A celebration of Jim’s life will take place at the Unitarian Universalists of the Big Bend this Saturday, June 2nd at 10:00 am, to be followed by a hike to his beloved desk on Hancock Hill. All are welcome! Gifts and contributions may be made in his name to the Alpine Public Library.
Most certainly a life well lived. No one can ask for more. The Cenizo will never be able to replace your column so we are glad to have your five books to keep us company. Now is your chance to visit the stars. Cherrio the nou.
Carolyn ZniewskiAlpine, TX