Dear MM siblings in cyberspace,
Last Sunday James Cannon died of a massive heart attack. Some of you may remember Cannon from the list of 1997-2000 and the old IRC chat rooms. From 2000-2006, he was behind the scenes making sure that MM remained an option for everyone.
In 2000, when it looked like MM might cease to exist, a small group of us from the New York MM group rented a car and drove to Washington DC to meet with Marc Kern and Fred Rotgers (both co-authors of Responsible Drinking). There and then we enlisted a new board of directors, which included several MM members from around the country, we re-organized, and we began again.
At first the NYC MM group took responsibility for everything. We rented a P.O. Box in New Jersey and began the job of running the small non-profit organization. The Harm Reduction Coalition gave us office space (we still receive our mail there), Jennifer took over administrative tasks and new meeting support, Jean handled the money, Barb designed the logo, Emily re-wrote some MM meeting materials, Kurt handled the online stuff and Cannon took over as Executive Director. I think he was the only one of us who had a clue about business matters. We had no idea what we were taking on, only that MM must not die.
Various people behind the scenes came and went, but Kurt stayed, I stayed, and Cannon stayed and did heroic work. MM wouldn't exist today without him. I won't detail all the many tasks that needed to be done, but I will say that he always had unlimited energy and unlimited generosity and he always gave it to MM. He took the time to talk to curious professionals, desperate people searching for help, and everyone inquiring about starting a new meeting. He went to professional conferences and he spoke about MM on the radio. He was passionate about MM, always.
Cannon had a fierce drinking problem too. He'd been forced into AA some years before MM and the experience had scarred him. He remained rabidly anti-AA for many years, although he let go of that at the end. He left MM in 2006, I moved from Program Director to Executive Director, and he continued his battle with alcohol.
But 18 months ago, he decided he'd had enough, and checked himself into a state rehab, which was basically for hard-core, come-from-the gutter guys. After that, he never drank again. He reconciled with his family and began working as a substitute teacher for the NYC school system. He was going to finish his masters degree in engineering. He said he was content for the first time in his life.
So he had won the battle of this lifetime, and he always said he would never have been able to do it without MM.
Cannon was an MM hero and MM wouldn't exist today without him. MM sent a massive arrangement of yellow roses, from all of us, to his funeral.
His generous heart shut down as he was driving, Sunday morning, January 17, 2010. It's no surprise that he was on his way back to that rehab in the Bronx, to help the new guys there.
Written by Dr. Ana Kosok, 1/29/2010
Memories from the MM Listserv - Selected Excerpts:
Anonomous posts, Moderation Management Main List Listserv Jan 2010
- We will miss your heart, your intelligence your capability, your generosity, and your passion. You are irreplaceable. Those who were lucky enough to know you as a friend will forever miss you.
- I only met Jim in person a couple of times, but was always struck by his good, basic humanity, as well as by his different take on things that needed to be taken differently.
- James provided enthusiastic leadership to MM for several years that was masterful and may have been crucial to its survival. MM is deeply in his debt and has suffered a great loss. We will all miss you Cannon.
- James Cannon carried a light, and he shined it on MM for as long as he was able.
- As somewhat of an outsider of MM, it seemed to me that he held MM together for that period. He certainly worked his butt off. Damn it all.
- Cannon was the first person from the internet I ever met in person, and I couldn't have wished for anyone better. God rest his soul, he'll be sorely missed.
- James was a very caring, giving, and courageous person even when he was struggling. He was an immensely talented writer, with a lyrical, poetic style. And he was always searching for the truth.
- Cannon was Mr. MM when I first came aboard. Without his energy and enthusiasm during some rough years I doubt MM would of survived.
- I fervently hope he had found some peace in that wild, wild Irish heart.
- James was a great-hearted man. In the early days of starting up our old Morristown, NJ meeting, he drove down several times for meetings, where he lent terrific support.
- I was honored to have heard him.
- His one of the first posts I read way back when and thought what a man of integrity and honesty. It was after reading his message that I had the courage to write the list myself.
- I am deeply saddened to hear about the loss of Cannon. He strongly encouraged my leadership in MM and was such a source of support to so many of us in general.
- I love knowing Sir James slayed the dragon before he met his end, and am thankful for all his contributions to this wonderful organization.
- We are all so lucky to have had such a strong advocate for MM.
- So from myself any every person whose life was made, is being made, and will be made better because of what you have left behind, I say from my heart...thank you Cannon.
- James can take with him a legacy that I think all of us would be honored to bear.....that of helping champion a unique and misunderstood method of helping those with a common affliction.
- I'm without words. What an abundant life he lived.
- I DO remember him when I started here in 2003 and I do remember him always seeming to be in the background getting things taken care of and supporting the system and the organization.
- Yes... "Moderation in all things." I remember Cannon. He will be missed.
- Cannon was wise, generous, and a good friend to me personally, as well as to MM. He was truly a great guy. I genuinely loved him.
- He was Our Guy.