NPR's Associate Editor for News Operations, Jim Lesher, died this morning at the age of 46, after a swift and debilitating battle with stomach cancer. He is survived by his mother Anne Lesher, his father James Lesher Sr., his sister Kathryn Nash and two nephews, Christopher and Sean, along with his extended family at NPR.
For more than two decades, Lesher worked tirelessly behind the scenes coordinating logistics so that NPR not only was heard, but also sounded its very best. He was incredibly proud of his work, and he had good reason to be.
"Jim's value to this newsroom was so apparent that I once joked with him that I was going to make up a wanted poster with his photo: 'Jim Lesher: Most Wanted Man at NPR,'" says NPR Deputy Managing Editor Chuck Holmes.
Lesher embodied a rare mix of methodical attention to detail and unassuming talent that is invaluable in a newsroom. Beyond his tireless work ethic, Lesher's patience and his stone-faced, dry wit permeated NPR during inevitable moments of high stress and urgency. He had a gift for knowing what someone needed before they knew, and quietly resolved potential obstacles before they even could be recognized as such. No matter the situation, Lesher could and did handle it and his expansive contributions are irreplaceable for the organization.
"There is an entire news organization full of heavy and broken hearts," says NPR Executive Producer for Newscast Robert Garcia. "If the measure of a man is how much he is loved and appreciated by others, Jim was successful beyond his wildest dreams."
Lesher grew up in the Washington, D.C., area and, according to his high school yearbook, "was a rocker, a roller and an out-of-controller." He joined NPR as an intern soon after graduating from Catholic University with a B.A. in English Literature, in 1990. He was known to regularly rock out to the 1970s band Queen.
"From the earth below to the heavens above / That's how far and funny is love."