In 2005, I noticed an announcement that the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research was searching for students and researchers in biodemography. That’s unusual, so I wrote to Jim, who I had met only once, to ask what was up and express my interest in being involved. Jim wrote back, and said I should just come for a visit. MPIDR would pay my expenses and put me up, I could meet people and give a couple of talks, and see for myself what was up. Wow. OK, that sounds fun, so I did just that and headed to Rostock for a week or more. It was great; so much demography, of so many kinds, being done by so many interesting people. As I was getting ready to leave, I sought Jim out to thank him. He said, «Come back whenever you want».

And he meant it. Some months later, I tentatively wrote to suggest that I would like to make another visit, and he repeated it. Come back whenever you want. And I did. Many times. That openness and generousity that so many of us remember about Jim had a huge impact on my life, as it has on so many other lives. I feel a deep sense of gratitude to him, and to the Institute that he founded. It is a magical place, and Jim was a magician.