Anyone who’s been around the TRCP for a while has heard about Jim Range. Jim is thought of as the primary founder of the TRCP, and while many individuals contributed to the organization’s foundation, Jim had the strategic vision and extraordinary passion that remain at the heart of the organization to this day.
Jim’s instincts for the necessity of the TRCP for American sportsmen have proven to be 100 percent on target in the ten years since he led the way in launching the sportsmen-conservation organization. He was a brilliant strategist and known widely in Republican and Democratic circles in Washington, D.C., as one of the best brains in town. He could walk up to a legislative problem, measure it up and down, cut to a diagnosis and course of treatment without a lot of fancy talk.
Like a country doctor looking over a sick kid, Jim worked as quickly as anyone I’ve ever seen and the solutions he prescribed were always nonpartisan in nature. If you knew Jim’s dad, there was no great mystery as to how he came by this gift.
Jim’s dad, Dr. James J. Range, passed away in early October. “Bud” as his friends knew him, was 94 years old. Unlike Jim, who passed away three years ago at the age of 63, Dr. Range lived the kind of long, full life he deserved. I was fortunate enough to get to know Dr. Range as were many of Jim’s friends and while their outward personalities were markedly different, Jim took after his dad in many ways.
In the mountains of Tennessee around Johnson City, Jim gained a deep appreciation of the outdoors from his dad and it set him on a professional path that would see him become one of the most important sportsmen-conservation advocates of his generation. Jim took traits and smarts learned from his father and applied them to the political arena where he worked to heal divisions that threatened to forfeit American’s great natural resources and the outdoor way of life.
I mostly spent time with Dr. Range out at Jim’s place in Montana. Jim was such a huge personality and such a giant in the political and conservation arenas and it was fascinating to get to know the man who had, along with Jim’s mother, unleashed this whirlwind on all of us. Dr. Range was a warm wonderful person and it clicked for me right away – how this mellow and methodical doctor was connected to his colorful son. They both loved hunting and fishing and the outdoors deep down in their hearts and they both cared so much about other people.
So today I’ll just say thanks to Jim one more time for all he did for me as a friend and for all he did for this country’s sportsmen. And I’ll say thank you to Dr. Range for spending part of his long wonderful life raising such a fine son. We miss you both.
This article was written by TRCP board member George Cooper.