Remembering Jim Laurita

My heart broke when I read the news this morning of Jim Laurita’s death. As the founder of Hope Elephants, his story inspired and informed my work with the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine this summer.

I spent the day with Jim back in early May. Brent and I drove up there and watched him give tour after tour after tour. It was a rainy day and we spent the entire day in the barn with Jim, the elephants and group after group after group. I remember the pungent smell of elephant dung, and feeling the love when Jim gave Rosie a bath. Jim sent us off to Camden for coffee because “the girls needed a break”. Opal reacted to my voice, and Jim said that I sounded like his sister. I have a recording of our forty minute interview still on my ipad. I was struck by his attentive love to those two elephants, his care and understanding and his ultimate commitment to them and to educating the world about them. There’s some people that exist on a higher plane of consciousness and care. I believe that Jim Laurita was one of those people. I am grateful for few interactions I had with him.

Introducing the cast of “The Road to Hope” to Jim in late June was one of the most rewarding days of my career. The caravans up to Hope, and seeing all of them meet Rosie, Opal and Jim for the first time was pure magic. They all knew the story, and they saw the reality and put it in context. I could see each of them spark up with inspiration and ideas.

I’m so glad we had the opportunity to perform the play in Camden this summer. Though Jim didn’t attend the play, I’m sure he heard about it and I’m sure he was proud of us and happy that we were helping him carry his message of conservation and the sanctity of life and caring for others. I will always remember how closely the town of Camden listened that day, and their trumpets instead of applause.

Jim created a safe place for Rosie and Opal. I believe the Hope Elephant Sanctuary will live on and thrive in his memory as a sanctuary and beacon of education and respect for these beautiful creatures. I will have Hope Elephants in my prayers over the next few weeks as the community grieves the loss of truly amazing human.

~ Reba