|By Kenneth Cole
Jan 15, 2014
from Phillip Hardin, one of Gary's best friends.....
Gary Mims farewell:
CaroMont Hospital cardiac rehabilitation manager Gary Mims died this past Saturday from a tragic accident on Crowder's Mountain. Gary was trying to do a quick hike between predicted rainstorms to get some exercise and collect trash as he commonly did when hiking alone. We believe the severe winds and possible microburst pushed him off the edge of the highly exposed David's Castle outcropping. Saturday was a very difficult day for his lovely wife Cheryl and son Thomas and many in the local outdoor enthusiasts who knew him well.
I went into the hospital early this Sunday morning to do some catch-up work before a morning hike with Gary's friends to look at the site where the event happened. As I came into the hospital I felt extreme sadness knowing that I wouldn't see his bounding silhouette in blue scrubs going down the hall, as unfortunately his body laid in a different part of the hospital following this accident. As cardiac rehab manager, he did his job well but most don't know half of what he did. His staff would tell you that he not only managed the department but did the day-to-day work to give his staff breaks and get to know his patients better. He frequently took the holiday shifts so the younger staff could be home with their families. He also took on all the home bound tracheostomy patients as this was generally difficult and non-rewarding, but something he took pride in and highly meaningful to the chronically ill patients. He was also a tireless advocate for general health through fitness and diet around the hospital, well before it was popular and in the news.
Gary spent most of his evening's going to meetings for the betterment of our Gaston Community and supported most environmental issues such as Greenways, Crowders Mountain, and water quality testing and monitoring. He was therefore a credible resource and "watch dog" for most of the things the rest of us don't pay attention to.
When Gary wasn't working or volunteering for the community, he was frequently enjoying some of his many hobbies such as hiking, rock climbing, kayaking, or mountain biking. Many don't know how remarkably accomplished he was in these sports; Gary has many of the first ascents on Crowder's Mountain climbing routes and many first descents with other pioneer kayakers on North Carolina Rivers. Many of the group today can attest that much of what they know about climbing, kayaking or mountaineering started with Gary.
In addition to having master degree in his field of pulmonary and cardiac health, he was also very accomplished as a writer. Gary wrote many articles for our local newspaper advocating for green space and environmental protection. In addition, he has written two books that are fiction but incorporate some of the many adventures in his life.
Gary's knowledge of old music, outdoor survival strategies, and fitness and disease prevention was remarkable. One of his most unique traits was his extreme personal discipline for placing his friend's, family, coworker's and patient's needs before his own. As we walked up the trail today on behalf of Gary, many of us agreed he was the "least needy" and most "consistently positive" person we knew. We all reflected on his genuine childlike curiosity about all things, generous heart, and his profound day to day spirituality. He truly demonstrated the words of St. Francis; "preach the Gospel often, but speak only if you must".
Gary accomplished so much during his 60 years here, he will be missed by many but he certainly left a long legacy of good works.
With respect and sadness,