Jim Blue ’82 recalls the patchwork of people who shaped him at CM, and how he adds to this experiential quilt.
Jim Blue boarded the chartered MBTA bus toward Baker Street with excitement on the first morning of ninth grade. He had never been out of his hometown of Newton for school before. On the ride, he met fellow students from West Roxbury, Brighton, Roslindale and nearby neighborhoods.
“It was really fun to have friends from all over the place,” Jim says of his transition to CM. As he and his classmates got older, and got their licenses, a friend was always willing to pick him up on the way to school. He holds closely the camaraderie forged on those drives. “We hung out, talked, and listened to a lot of music…simple times.”
The eighth of nine children, Jim worked at the Chestnut Hill Star Market when not wrestling, golfing or studying for CM. He still made time for a school dance or two, though, or a field day, here and there, with his CM brothers.
Another kind of brother— the Christian Brothers kind— holds space in Jim’s heart. Br. Joseph Heron, a math teacher, pushed Jim academically. “I was very fortunate to get connected with him literally my first day or two there. And for whatever reason, I ended up in his math class. I think about Brother Heron often.”
His efforts landed him at Boston College. “I was not a math genius,” Jim laughs, “but I was confident in it. Mr. Joe Perfetti had a really strong effect on me, getting comfortable with some more difficult math subjects. His calculus course gave me a huge head start at BC.”
LIFE AFTER SCHOOL
In the Fall of 1982, Jim entered Boston College’s School of Management, and quickly recognized the two-part components of academic rigor and commitment to service. Things well-practiced at CM.
“I didn’t really understand it at the time, but the habits that were required of us at CM prepared me for college. First semester, academically, was a breeze.”
Studying finance and marketing, Jim knew he wanted to go into sales. His first job was in the life insurance sector, and he credits this position with teaching him how to deal with rejection. After a two-year training program, Jim switched sides in the insurance world, and never left.
Jim bought a place in a firm in 1994, grew it to new heights, and sold it in 2010. Two-and-a-half years ago, he joined his current company, Alera Group, as president. He’s a practiced people person, and while he’s leading teams instead of going door to door, “I’m never far away from sales— it’s always near and dear to my heart.”
Near to Jim’s heart, too, are his wife of 28 years and four children. She a teacher and his sons the product of all-boys high school, access to quality education has always been a priority of Jim’s. Recalling the “really cool” experience of meeting CM classmates from diverse backgrounds, Jim continues to champion academic, racial and socioeconomic diversity at CM.
RETURN TO CM
Jim stayed close to Catholic Memorial. About ten years after graduating, he joined an alumni committee at the suggestion of several former Knights. Later, he joined the Board of Directors, staying for 11 years and serving as board president from 2003 to 2008. He facilitated tough conversations on the growth of the school and the shrinkage of the Christian Brothers’ community. Jim also served on the search committee to hire current school president, Dr. Peter Folan.
Now, he serves on the Catholic Memorial Foundation Board, putting his sales skills to good use while fundraising for the growth of the school’s physical footprint. Less formally, however, he attends a CM gala every so often, a hockey game to cheer on the Knights, or a gathering with old friends like Jeff O’Dowd and Fran Steinkrauss.