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  • Writer's pictureOlive Lowe

Project Profile: It's a Great Life

I just finished up another wonderful complete life story book for a client. This is the longest project I have ever completed, coming in at 190 pages! I met Jim through a friend of my mom, who is Jim's daughter. It just so happened that he lives three minutes away from me in Mesa!

Jim had already completed a pretty lengthy manuscript, but still had a few things to talk about. So I edited and organized what he had already written, and interviewed him to finish his story. We incorporated about 60 photographs into the beautiful hardcover 8x10 book. Once the book was complete, they were able to order copies for Jim's children and grandchildren directly from Blurb, the publisher.

Now, let's take a look through this lovely book!

Jim is an avid art collector, particularly from the early Utah and pioneer time periods. We decided to use this piece by John Hafen (one of his favorite artists) for the cover. The lone man on the back appears to be heading out into the fields to work--or maybe returning home?--a beautiful metaphor for life, I thought.

Title page

Jim dedicated his life story to the women in his life, including his mother, Thelma Harrison, who inspired the title of the book with her often-repeated phrase, "It's a great life if you don't weaken, but if you do, it's still a great life."

"I confess that I have only touched on a few of the thousands of interesting events of the past eighty-four years." (But you still got to 190 pages, Jim!)

The panoramic image at the top of the page is of Jim's hometown (Ogden, Utah) in 1914. I found that gem on the Library of Congress' online archives. The pull quote on this page is one of my favorites: "I was forced to eat stewed tomatoes, green beans, bread broken up in a glass of milk with sugar on it, and other yucky stuff no kid likes."

Jim was adopted as an infant by these amazing people, Melvin and Thelma. They later adopted two more children.

This image of Jim with his mother is my favorite in the entire book. When he was four years old, he accidentally sliced his eye with a letter opener and ended up having it removed. The injury led to an infection which threatened his sight in the other eye and even his life. Jim said, "My mother promised Heavenly Father if He would preserve my life and my sight, she would serve Him for the rest of her life. She kept that promise." And so did He.

Jim had a very close relationship with his grandmother. Each week they took the train from Ogden to Salt Lake to spend time in the temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Jim had so many fun memories from his mission to Australia. This is one of the longest chapters in the book!

In his first letter home, missionary Elder Harrison admits that it's actually quite cold in Australia!

Priceless snippets from a mission companion's journal. "Elder Terry and I went to the Scriven's for tea. Sister Scriven is old and the food was old, cold, and not good. Pop's nose was dripping in his plate--I nearly lost my tea!

Love this phrase that summed up what he learned on his mission: "The sum of what I learned is that life is hard work, often discouraging, always surprising, and if taken in the service of others, every rewarding."

One of the many poems Jim has written during his life, about how he met his wife who worked at the ticket booth at the Academy Theater.

Fun family memories of catching a giant marlin in Hawaii and bringing a dog back to life for a family photo!

Jim started a clothing company during his entrepreneurial years. He and his wife are modeling some of the clothes in this photo. I was able to find an infomercial from their company on some old film archives. Treasure!

One of the chapters in Jim's book is dedicated to his travels. One of the most beautiful places he visited was Firenze, Italy.

Images of artwork in Jim's current collection by his friend who is an artist and professor at BYU

We had a whole chapter dedicated to the beautiful poems Jim has written, many of which were written for the funerals of friends and family.

The last page :-)

I hope you enjoyed this virtual tour of one of my favorite life story books. If you would like help with your own project, I would love to hear from you!

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