James Haas, 1958 ~ 2012

My husband, James Haas, died on June 4, at age 53, after a brief illness. It appears that the major culprit was undiagnosed, untreated diabetes which lowered his immune system. After successfully surviving a severe bacterial infection, Jim developed pneumonia and sepsis. Despite valiant efforts by the ICU staff at St. Mary’s in Grand Junction, Jim’s immune system was unable to combat the infections and eventually everything shut down.

Jim grew up in the Denver area. As a young boy, he loved exploring nature. He would find cool rocks and share them with his friends. He attended Western State University in Gunnison, Colo., to study geology. Circumstances did not allow him to complete his degree, and he spent many years logging in the summer and working at Crested Butte ski resort in the winter.

As he realized that he would not be able to continue that lifestyle indefinitely, he went to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) in Santa Monica, Calif., where he graduated at the top of his class and became a certified gemologist. After a few years appraising jewelry, Jim realized the suit-and-tie life was not for him and he began creating his own jewelry, which he sold at art festivals. For the past 20 plus years, Jim pursued his passion; cutting and polishing the stones he loved, creating beautiful jewelry where the stone was the focus, traveling to art festivals where he could talk about the stones he loved and educate people.

Jim and I met 16 years ago at an art festival and were married five years ago on summer solstice. We settled in Moab together and opened a store, Cave Dreamers. But Jim missed the open road and the adventure, so we closed the store and returned to art festivals.

Jim’s guiding principle was to do what he loved and share that with others. He was fulfilled that he had found a way to make a living doing what he loved. As he worked on his jewelry, he would ponder the mysteries of the universe. I believe he’s now a being of energy and light, exploring the universe he used to contemplate.

When you see a shooting star, Jim will probably be riding it; meteorites were one of his favorite stones. Up until a few years ago, Jim was the kindest and gentlest man I’d ever met. Unbeknownst to us, the diabetes began affecting his moods – I wish I’d known there was a physical cause. I can’t urge you strongly enough to get checked out for this insidious killer and do everything you can to manage it.

Jim leaves behind me, our little poodle, Athena, his mom, Helen, sister Elise, brother Joe, and father Rod.

His legacy is the beautiful jewelry he created celebrating the science and magic of nature and the countless people he inspired to learn more about science and/or pursue their dreams.

To offer condolences or see Jim’s creations, stop by Savage Spirit, 87 N. Main.

Thanks to everyone who has blanketed me in love.