Jim Haslem and Andy Weber
Jim Haslem and our friend, Andy Weber, yuk it up in between All Saints By-the-Sea Episcopal Church’s Easter services April 21 at the Music Academy of the West in Montecito. Less than three months later, Jim would be diagnosed with a ruthless form of ALS. (Bill Macfadyen / Noozhawk photo via Instagram)


When you’re a young parent, you have no context for the saying “long days, short years” — which usually is uttered somewhat wistfully by a wiser, older acquaintance while your children are in the throes of a very public meltdown somewhere.

The epiphany comes much later, when you get to be my age and your kids are out of the house and living lives on their own. At that point, when you realize the actuarial tables are no longer trending in your favor, the awareness becomes more pronounced.

And then time punches you in the gut, and you discover you’re out of it.

My circle and I learned — or relearned — that lesson over the last four months, and it has been heartbreaking.

Jim Haslem was one of my closest friends. Our wives were childhood pals in Houston and they reconnected when Cathy and Jim moved to Montecito some 22 years ago. We just happened to run into each other one Sunday at All Saints By-the-Sea Episcopal Church.

Jim was a successful attorney with a longstanding interest in journalism. We hit it off right from the start — bonding over The Wall Street Journal, Forbes Magazine and the state of what we both called Fossil Media.

After spending much of his career in banking law, Jim gradually shifted toward real estate law, eventually becoming one of the nation’s foremost specialists in large-scale and high-profile commercial lease workouts.

Over the years, Jim’s perspective and advice were invaluable to me, even though the wisdom often was dispensed at the tail end of a lengthy disquisition on something else.

He filed Noozhawk’s initial paperwork with the Secretary of State’s Office and, several years later, was responsible for negotiating the most important deal of our existence.

We talked a couple of times a week, even if it was only by text or email.

My wife, Missy, had a milestone birthday on May 1 and, at her party that day, Jim’s voice was uncharacteristically faint. My late father-in-law died of pulmonary fibrosis, an insidious lung disease that runs in his family and, as a result, my own. I’m hypersensitive to the symptoms, and that’s one of them.

Truthfully, I forgot about it after the party and, inexplicably, we didn’t see each other over the next two months.

In mid-July, though, Jim texted to ask me to stop by so he and Cathy could tell me something. That May Day encounter came surging back from the recesses of my memory, and I arrived at their house with trepidation.

Oh, how I wish I had been right about what I thought I had feared the most.

Jim was a shell of his former self from just a few weeks before, and it was shocking. In stunned silence, I listened as he weakly explained he had been diagnosed with a very aggressive form of ALS, short for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, the progressive neurological disorder also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

No one would say it, but we all understood it was a death sentence. All we could do — all anyone could do — was pray. So we did.

With time quickly ticking away, Jim focused his waning energy on winding down his law practice, navigating the bewildering rat’s nest of insurance, and getting his affairs in order for his family’s future and protection.

Mercifully, one of our friends, Mari Mitchel, had been through a similar situation and took the lead in organizing a support system for the Haslems. Many of us pitched in, but all of us — Jim included — thought we would have more time.

I started writing this column in my head, wanting to publish it before it was too late — so Jim could know the love and respect I had for him while there was still time.

None of us made it. Jim died at 2 p.m. Nov. 9, with Cathy and their sons, his dog, his brothers and our priests at his side. He left this life as he lived it, with faith, grace and dignity.

Time is something you can’t buy, borrow, save or reserve. When it’s gone, it’s gone.

I cherish the time I had with Jim — we all do. Even though it hurts the way things ended up, I know I’ll see him again in the Kingdom. Really, in no time at all.

Rest in peace, my brother.

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Noozhawk will be making a slight, but important, change next week with the debut of what had been our annual Good for Santa Barbara section, a late-autumn series celebrating philanthropy and the spirit of giving that Santa Barbara County is known for.

On Nov. 18, we’ll be consolidating our Nonprofit and iSociety sections into Good for Santa Barbara and, going forward, that single section will be home for all things nonprofit related in Noozhawk.

The nonprofit community has been a vital part of our coverage and commitment since Noozhawk was launched 12 years ago. We think this new section will be a better way to highlight it.

Before we go there, we’ve got to take a look back at this past week. According to our Google Analytics, there were 150,693 of you reading Noozhawk over the last seven days.

What follows is my take on your Top 5 stories. And by “my take,” I mean my opinion.

1. BizHawk: Onus Donuts Coming to State Street in Santa Barbara

Juan Jimenez

Juan Jimenez’s Onus Donuts is a tasty concept — with one of Santa Barbara’s coolest logos. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

Because you can never have too many doughnut shops … I’m serious: You can never have too many doughnut shops.

Juan Jimenez, whose family owns the Cajun Kitchen empire, has opened the oven door at Onus Donuts at 413 State St., and the aroma of freshly baked deliciousness has begun wafting about what was once one of State Street’s most derelict blocks. The neighborhood is in the midst of a revitalization led by my friends at Kim’s Service Department across the street.

“We want to open an old-fashioned doughnut shop that gives people value,” Jimenez told our Josh Molina, who once again neglected to bring me back any evidence.

“We want to create a cool environment where people just come in, have coffee and doughnuts. It’s simple.”

In addition to standard doughnuts, the restaurant will offer special creations, like those with Nutella filling, bacon and maple toppings, Fruity Pebbles, and even vegan versions. Onus will be serving coffee from Dune Coffee Roasters.

A diner-style counter features plush stools and there’s free Wi-Fi.

Shop hours are 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily, and it stays open to midnight Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

2. Driver Killed in Rollover Crash on Highway 101 on Gaviota Coast

Highway 101 rollover wreck

Would a seatbelt have saved a life? (KEYT News photo)

An SUV driver was killed early Nov. 13 when he was ejected from his vehicle during a rollover crash on Highway 101 west of Goleta.

According to the California Highway Patrol, the motorist was driving a Ford Escape south on the highway about 7:40 a.m. when he apparently drifted off the left side of the road and up an embankment in the median near Arroyo Hondo on the Gaviota coast.

CHP Capt. Cindy Pontes told our Tom Bolton that the driver was not wearing a seatbelt and was ejected when the SUV flipped over. He was declared dead at the scene.

The man’s identity is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

No one else was hurt in the crash, which is under CHP investigation.

Southbound commuter traffic was backed up for miles while the wreckage was cleared and the scene investigated. A friend of mine told me it took her 2½ hours to get to work from Santa Maria that morning.

3. Solvang Man Arrested for Alleged DUI After Crash on Highway 101

Highway 101 crash

A Pismo Beach woman was pulled alive from this wreckage, but she’s hospitalized with critical injuries. (Cal Fire San Luis Obispo photo)

A monstrous rear-end collision on fog-shrouded Highway 101 north of the Santa Maria River bridge left both drivers with critical injuries late on the night of Nov. 10. The Solvang man who allegedly caused the wreck was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.

According to California Highway Patrol Officer Benjamin Smith, 18-year-old Justin Koslosky was driving a Ford Focus north on the highway at a high rate of speed when his car slammed into the back of a Nissan Sentra near the Highway 166 exit ramp.

Smith said the impact propelled the Nissan into the center median wall before it bounced back onto the roadway, blocking one of the lanes.

The Nissan driver, identified as 57-year-old Cynthia Hawkins of Pismo Beach, was transported to Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria before being transferred to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital due to the severity of her injuries.

Smith said Koslosky’s car hurtled down the right embankment, crossed the Highway 166 entrance ramp and overturned after plowing into a second embankment.

The force of the collision disconnected the Ford’s engine and one of its tires from the chassis, and that wreckage landed on nearby Thompson Road, the CHP said.

Koslosky was taken to Marian Regional Medical Center for treatment, and Smith said he later was arrested on suspicion of DUI.

The CHP investigation is continuing.

4. Santa Barbara City Council to Settle Funk Zone Parking Dispute

Santa Barbara Funk Zone

Be careful what you wish for. The Santa Barbara City Council’s visit to the Funk Zone didn’t turn out the way a chronic complainer had hoped. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

The Santa Barbara City Council took a field trip to the Funk Zone on Nov. 11 to check out a chronic critic’s challenge to a restaurant and retail project proposed for 11 Anacapa St.

The complaint — in the form of an appeal of the Planning Commission’s unanimous approval of the project — focused on a parking modification that allows property owner Ray Mahboob to provide 32 spaces, including 15 valet spots, instead of the required 46.

The next day, our Josh Molina reported, the council swiftly rejected the appeal on a 7-0 vote.

5. CHP Believes Driver Targeted Oncoming Vehicle in Highway 154 Collision That Killed 3

CHP Capt. Cindy Pontes

California Highway Patrol Capt. Cindy Pontes delivers an extraordinary declaration. (Tom Bolton / Noozhawk photo)

As our Tom Bolton first reported last week, California Highway Patrol Capt. Cindy Pontes minced no words in describing John Roderick Dungan.

John Robert Dungan

John Robert Dungan, triple-murder suspect. (Santa Barbara County Jail photo)

The 28-year-old Santa Barbara man has been charged with three counts of murder in the Oct. 25 Highway 154 head-on collision that killed Rebecca Vanessa Goss Bley, a 34-year-old Solvang wife, mother and singer-songwriter, and her two children, 2-year-old Lucienne and 4-month-old Desmond.

“Based upon the evidence we have gathered thus far, we believe that Mr. Dungan intentionally drove his vehicle into the opposing lane of traffic directly at the vehicle carrying Vanessa and her children,” Pontes told a Nov. 7 news conference.

“This intentional act caused the deaths of three innocent people.”

Dungan, who is being held in County Jail without bail, put in an appearance before Superior Court Judge Clifford Anderson on Nov. 8, but his arraignment was postponed until Nov. 20.

A substitution of counsel in the case is set for Nov. 15, so look for a Noozhawk update later that day.

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Last Year on Noozhawk

What was our most-read story this time last year? Wind-Driven Wildfire Prompts Highway 101 Closure, Evacuations in Camarillo Area.

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Bill Macfadyen’s Story of the Week

Here’s one way to root out the drug trade: Feral Hogs Steal $22,000 Worth of Cocaine From Drug-Trafficking Ring.

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Best of Bill’s Instagram

Adorable Alaskan malamute puppy pix and video in my Instagram feed. You’re welcome. You can also follow our family’s newest addition at @sadiethealaskanmalamute.

                                                                 •        •        •

Watch It

Did anyone check their little library cards?

YouTube video

(Associated Press video)

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— Bill Macfadyen is Noozhawk’s founder and publisher. Contact him at wmacfadyen@noozhawk.com, follow him on Twitter: @noozhawk and Instagram: @bill.macfadyen, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

Bill Macfadyen

William M. Macfadyen, Noozhawk Publisher

Bill Macfadyen is Noozhawk’s founder and publisher. Contact him at wmacfadyen@noozhawk.com, and follow him on Instagram: @bill.macfadyen. The opinions expressed are his own.