Our friend and former News on 6 Chief Meteorologist Jim Giles was honored on Friday at his alma mater. At the new National Weather Center building on the OU Campus in Norman, Jim was remembered for his career and contributions to his craft. News on 6 anchor Scott Thompson reports itâ€™s fitting the honor was at OU, which Jim always considered the top meteorology school in the world.
The last time you saw Jim, the night before Thanksgiving, he was struggling, but he didnâ€™t want you to know how much pain he was in that night. Jim showed up because, it seemed, he'd always turned on the Christmas lights at the Rhema Bible College. And after 25 years, one broadcast had to be the final one, and Jim wanted to be there even though his body was failing him.
During that final forecast it was revealed to Jim that Griffin Communications, the owner of KOTV-Channel 6, was making a donation to the OU School of Meteorology, and that a classroom would be named in his honor. Jim's surprise, and smile, was genuine.
Jim was proud his degree was an OU degree, and we promised that night we'd travel to Norman for the dedication, so Jim could see for himself. Sadly, a month later he died. On Friday, the classroom Jim never got to see was unveiled, with his name on the wall.
"It teaches the foundation of weather forecasting,â€ OU Meteorology Dean Dr. John Snow said. â€œIf you don't understand Synoptic Meteorology, you can't read the weather maps, you can't hope to be a good weather forecaster."
Jim's beloved Hannah was there, and two other loves of his life, daughters Andrea and Angela along with a new granddaughter, Hannah junior. He'd be so happy to see them, and the young people who hope to follow in his footsteps.
"She always said that she was going to see me on the news, and I was going to be like Jim Gilesâ€ OU Sophomore Jeremiah Rosson said. â€œAnd I told her, grandma, those are big shoes to fill and I don't know if I'll ever come close,"
Jim would encourage young meteorology students, and then warn them that a career in TV weather means years of missed family meals and little league games, and thereâ€™s constant pressure to be right and be first, and smile through it all.
You never knew of the missed milestones at the Giles home. Only that Jim was there to hold our collective hands in our most terrifying moments. And in a business that shouts breaking news and breaking weather at every opportunity, even when it's nothing of the sort, Jim would say here's what's coming, here's how we're going to get through it, and tomorrow's going to be a better day.
If the professors at OU can somehow impart humanity in their students, a genuineness, along with the nuts and bolts of meteorology, then those who pass through the Jim Giles Synoptic Meteorology Classroom will be well served. And should they ever lose their bearings, amidst the science and theory swirling, then they can just look up from time-to-time at the name on the wall, and the man behind it, who meant so much to so many.
"This room will continue onwards what he really hoped to do, keep them educated, abreast of thing, don't worry, and people who had the same abilities and interests as he had," Jimâ€™s widow Hannah Giles said.
Jim earned his Master's Degree at OU in 1967. Dean Snow says part of the donation from Griffin Communications will be invested, and the proceeds used to keep the Giles classroom at the forefront of science technology.