Comments on the Jim Blue Tribute

As I worked on my Jim Blue Tribute, I began routing draft copies to Jim's personal and professional friends and colleagues for comments and suggestions.  Most of these individuals knew Jim for many years.  And many retired from Boeing in the top ranks as Directors, Vice-Presidents, or Presidents of Boeing Divisions.  I also involved members of Jim's family.  Over a 4 month period, the Draft went through about 25 iterations and revisions,  until it arrived at where it is today.  Essentially all of the comments were positive,  in fact, extremely positive.  I reproduce them below.  I've chosen to not identify the writers, as their comments to me were personal and not intended for publication.

From a Director and Jim's long-time friend:

I read the revised version completely and would only say it's hard to improve on perfection.

Bro, You've captured the essence of the man's life, well done.  I, like few others, know that Jim would be a happy camper upon reading it. 

From a retired Boeing Vice-President

Hi, Bob,

Thanks for letting me read this; it was quite a pleasure!!

For me, it was an educational piece about you, about Jim, and about your perspective on the company. I agree with much of what you said

I found it to be a compelling read; I could not put it down. And I'm certain that it was a great catharsis for you and an elegant tribute to a very interesting and uniquely authentic guy. And, I like your writing style.

From the  President of an important Boeing supplier 

For the first time in my life, I asked my secretary to hold all calls and visits for two hours while I read this.  I could not put it down.  What a wonderful tribute to your good friend.

From a  retired Boeing Vice-President

Yes, Bob, you have written a book.  Short, as books go, but a very good piece of literature.  I enjoyed it immensely, partly because, of course, because I knew all the players.

You have done Jim a great service.

And it's a damn good yarn.

From a Corporate Director at Chicago headquarters

Hey, finished reading your story and wow I sure remember some of those stories!  This is a great piece of may have to take out some of the words, but I was sitting here thinking, that this would be a great book on his life in the quality world......he started so much and had the vision that most people don't even see 2 inches in front of them.....believe me I think this is a great idea for a publication........

From a Corporate Vice-President

Hi Bob! Well I am finally up and running at our re-modeled home. It is kind of fitting that I end up here after 41 years at Boeing, on property that used to be Bill Boeing's estate. I thought about this as I read your treatise on Jim.

Regarding your story interwoven with Jim Blue's memory, I must say "It is a story that is hard to put down". Your personal chemistry with Jim and the stories that permeate your careers really do capture the "old Boeing". I guess I would place myself 80 % as part of the "old Boeing" and 20 % of the Condit Boeing and so some of my company adventures intersected with yours and Jims'. I can relate to my full recognition of the new Boeing when Phil and Harry had one of the outside gurus come to corporate around '97 and lecture us that Boeing had to move from being a "family" to being a "team" I remember leaning to a fellow listener to the speech/lecture and saying something like "This is not going to sell down the ranks of the organizations!!!". This was followed closely by Harry giving a speech down town and stating that Boeing people were arrogant and in-bred! I must say though that Harry was the one that saw Commercial was in trouble and needed some management repair shortly thereafter.

Anyway, my bottom line regarding your treatise - don't change a word!

 From  a retired Boeing Director


I wouldn't change a word.

(By the way, I loved the bit about the original Boeing "totem pole" logo,
Bob.  Just this weekend, by coincidence, I was out on the boat flying my
flag (see photo attached).  It came into my possession years ago when I
noticed someone in Customer Relations about to throw it away, when Boeing
went to the current "Pinocchio" logo, and I begged for the old one!)

I think your writing comes across as a great tribute to Jim, and captures
well the essence of our environment during those years, which is why I say
don't change anything.

Thanks for asking

From  a  Long time Boeing Field Rep and Jim's good friend:


It took me two hours to read your tribute to Jim. By the end I  had tears in my eyes. A beautiful piece of work. It is already a book. You should flesh it out and with the right title it could make the list. Don't change anything. Your style captures the history. This is too good to let it die unknown.

I am waiting for the book. I would like to be among the first to buy an autographed version. Call it " Numbers of Seven" subtitled " The
golden age of Boeing".

 From  a retired Engineering Manager

Wow!  It did take some time to read, what a tribute to Jim, I'm sure he has read it by now up there.  You may say it is long winded, but how can you do justice to a story or tribute to Jim Blue in a few paragraphs when it should be a book!
Well done.
Great Job,

I'll add a tribute of my own that you can add to "Friend's Stories"

From a retired Boeing Corporate Director, Vice-President, and Group President


Thanks for letting me preview this writing - I thought it was great.

I picked up some "nits" here and there and have a couple of minor recommendations.....  You might  [try] some sort of disclaimer such as, "This is how I see things from my vantage Point.  I know others may see various events from a different perspective",...

Rather than go page by page by email, it might be easier for me to walk through this with you over the phone.  My number is ............

From a retired Boeing Vice-President and Division General Manager

Written from the heart.  I've seen many similar pieces that were far more blunt and outspoken.  Not to worry.

From a member of Jim's family

Just completed the review - took a couple of cracks at it as there is much to behold - a good start on a novel as you say.  A good one I might add.
.............The wife and I had a genuine belly laugh regarding the German cabby incident. There are many warm hugs in those paragraphs...............

We are of kindred spirit with where and what the Boeing Company has managed (or miss-managed itself); but it's still in my hopes one of the best this world of ours have to offer and I trust upon trust that it will overcome these pitfalls and emerge once again as the proverbial beacon on the hill.  At times I tend to cling more back to times and stories of Bill Allen and T. Wilson....................... certainly have spoken your heart, and have done so brilliantly.


Hi Bob,

Back from a long bus. trip and catching up on email. Thank you for sharing this and it certainly did bring back some reflections about Jim.  You see back many years ago he also shared his insight with me on how to be a successful and surviving project leader around here in Boeing and I must admit that I still use those old skills.  As I was supporting T. Wilson back then Jim gave me some valuable insight on how to deliver to "T's" expectations. In fact Jim's advice and insight, along with that from another Boeing legend, Dave Peterson, are likely the reason that many of my projects became successes and not personal career burials.

After reading your email and your writing my opinion is that you've written a fine piece of personal experience journalism, very well researched and prepared and truly most interesting. And I concur it is really about people and their experiences.  The catalyst between all was "The Company" so Boeing is not the critical element here.

I would remember Jim and especially the adventures with his "used airplane" team leadership and would recall that to him, anything was possible, even in a culture of nay-sayers and bean counters.  He also knew how to survive in a biased system that buries most that work outside the accepted mainstream.  I frankly know this all too well.

I want you to know that I carefully read your piece and my conclusions are that I would not change a word since it is about remarkable experiences in a different time and the adventures of some very interesting people. All the best and thanks again for sharing this with me.


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