The light twinkle of the eyes and grin of James (Fuzzy) Randolph was always at the ready for storytelling, music and laughter. His joy brought happiness to anyone just being around him. Even the most down person couldn’t help being lifted up by the sound of a favorite song on a trilling harmonica.

That’s what he gave, truly unabashed, himself. He brought people out of the dark and gave so many a feeling of belonging. He embraced everyone with his wit, compassion and knowledge. He sang and jumped around like a merry elf. His vast knowledge of archeology and geology told in his unfaltering voice made people absorb anything and everything around them. How can you not want to listen and dissect the alchemical curiosity of this man? He just was who he was. A renaissance man — generous and fascinating.

I remember when I first met him in elementary school. My teacher took the class down to the museum at Waynesburg College. Fuzzy offered any of us a million dollars if we could lift a giant piece of meteor. I don’t even know how they got it into the corner! Laughter was always part of visiting the museum.

Walking in the woods one day, I found a larger cementation of shale sticking out of the ground. Part of the top half had a shave detached, so I took it to Fuzzy and he explained to me it was a precopterous fossil — a fern over two hundred million years old. He also took me on a tour of several other areas of the museum where he showed me a petrified tree trunk, which was really a stem of a precopterous fern.

I began to bring anything that interested me to the museum to show him. He helped me sort out my shell collection. I brought him old animal bones; I showed him different fossils and rocks I wanted to know more about. He was always willing to let me learn all I wanted and share the interests of someone who was interested in artifacts.

He was like that with everyone. His longing to share and his compassion and humor are cherished memories we all have. I’m thankful I could call him a friend. He helped me grow and develop my mind. His dedication to this county and world were one of a kind, and his enthusiasm helped bring people of all over to follow in his footsteps and be better at what we ourselves try to achieve.

He did it effortlessly.

One of the best things is that he let everyone know we can all be this bright light in other people’s lives. He gave us a remarkable gift. By showing us how simple it is to care and to question, he brought us a deeper understanding of ourselves.

He left us a legacy not just in memories, and music, and stories, but through the spirit to endure.

Catherine J. Blystone,


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