Dr. James X. Corgan passed away this morning at Baptist Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee. The causes of death were complications related to infection by multi-drug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (a modern product of evolution). Although not accepting of it (none of us would be), Jim understood it from a lifetime of looking at unique creatures and how they become as they are through the deepest halls of time.
I am sad about his passing and have shed some tears this evening. Although I know he did not want to leave Elnor and the rest of his family, we Christians do indeed believe that some wonderful place exists on the other side of this life in some corner of an incredibly large and mysterious universe, possibly with up to 32 parallel dimensions. Many of us believe all things that are unknown on this side of the great gulf are known on the other side where Jim has gone. The ancient pyramidal sea snails are not merely subjects of study and wonderment this night. Their ancient secrets are now fully known, and Jim has a big smile on his face—and yes—he did just say “Uh-hm, Uh-hm, Uh-hm.” Some things never die. Jim is alive somewhere tonight. I hope to see him again someday, and many of you will see him again someday too.
I looked over the compendium of famous mortality quotes for something appropriate to this gloomy occasion, which is so unfortunate for those of us who are left behind. All were cold, whimpering, and resigned to the unavoidable—even the ones by famous poets and playwrights going all the way back to ancient Greece and Rome. In other words, none of them were the Jim Corgan I have known. Jim Corgan was not a gloomy man. Then I ran into a good one—one I think Jim might approve in his role as paleontologist par excellence. It came from the pen of a famous man who was actually conceived (if not born) in Tennessee, and it was no doubt coined with a tongue in the cheek and a twinkle of mischief in the eye:
I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.
— Mark Twain
You may read Jim’s obituary and the details of the final arrangements at the following safe link: