This evening I said goodbye to a co-worker and friend who is moving back to his home state on Thursday. In tribute to him because it was always the way he did things, I performed a “Montana Exit*” at the popular Missoula restaurant where his going away celebration was taking place without really even saying goodbye. I figured I would save that for this blog post.
When I got hired at Grizzly Athletics a little over four years ago, Jimmy Gibson was coming up on his one year anniversary with the athletic department in his position as the Assistant Athletic Director for Business and Finance. He had arrived in Missoula from Texas where he grew up. After some years working in the Texas A&M system he eyed the Montana position, went through the application process, and landed the “money job” as I called it. As I am sure most people would admit, Jimmy wasted no time earning a reputation as someone who liked to have fun and joke around. When you are overseeing million dollar budgets some people might automatically perceive you as someone who is always serious; someone who has no time for small talk and someone who might be a little socially aloof. If you thought Jimmy might be a little like that before meeting him you were in for a surprise.
I got to know Jimmy pretty well over time. Although I don’t really hang out with people from work that much, I would hang with Jimmy from time to time in those first couple years. In 2012 I got to be his assistant on the travel advance team for football and we got to know each other pretty well. Spending long hours on planes, rental cars, and in hotels will do that to two people. We worked well together and a strong bond of trust and friendship developed.
It was during these football trips where he would tell me about the exciting developments of his new business, Dickey’s Barbecue. Jimmy had decided to follow his dream of opening up his own restaurant franchise. I got to stand back and watch the whole process happen from when the restaurant was just a wild idea in Jimmy’s head to the opening of its doors in March of 2013. During the football season of 2012 things really started to move fast for Dickey’s and I got to see firsthand the focus and stress it takes on a person to work two full-time jobs. I gained a lot of respect for Jimmy during those autumn months of last year.
As I mentioned in the above paragraph, in March Jimmy realized his dream and opened a restaurant in Missoula that this town had never seen before. He poured his heart and soul into that business. In life when you put every ounce of your energy into something, you usually have to cut back on something else. This summer, Jimmy left Grizzly Athletics on a full-time basis to focus completely on Dickey’s. Luckily he was still nice enough to coordinate football travel and help Brynn and I tremendously as our on- field point person for football games.
In the end, Jimmy knew that in order to maximize his personal profitability, a move back to Texas was necessary. In an example of his talents and employability, Jimmy quickly landed a job back in the athletic department at Texas A&M overseeing a hospitality facility. Mr. Gibson will once again be making crucial athletic business decisions, this time in a department much bigger than the one he was previously at. The Aggies are in good hands.
I want to wish Jimmy the best of luck in his move back to College Station. It was great getting to know him, getting to work with him, and getting to go on a few adventures with him. We send Jimmy back to his home state with his accent fully intact and his Texas pride attitude still as strong as ever. Goodbye, friend. Don’t Blink.
* A “Montana Exit” is when you secretly leave a place without telling anyone who you are with that you are leaving.