Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Tragedy Hits Home

In Memory of James Imonti
When you measure a mans worth it should be beyond his accomplishments. When you look back on a mans life when you see all the obstacles he over came to get there that’s what is important. When I first met James I had been broken to the point of hopelessness. Doing drugs and living a nightmare of the lifestyle that addiction carries. with it. Everything that has happened to me the last 17 plus years is a direct result of the nurturing and unconditional love he gave me. I learned to be a father to my children. Under his mentoring all my fractured family relationships had been mended. He was the biggest force behind my writing. He encouraged me to write and go deep inside and be the inspiration to others that he was to me. We had spent countless hours traveling the country to speak to convicts and addicts. The greatest compliment I ever received was recently when I was in Chicago a man walked up to me and said he was at a treatment center James and I spoke at several years ago.. He said he was a single father raising his children and he been clean for 2 years. He said the message James delivered changed his life and he wanted to thank him. I was just like him in the last 8 years I was able to be a single parent and be responsible for my children. When I think of all the things that I have accomplished being a father to my kids is what means the most. He led me to my personal relationship with god. His encouraging and mentoring put me on a path I never dreamed of. There is no way I could ever thank him for the life I have. I just pray that I can keep his message alive and inspire others the way he inspired me

Friends recall James Imonti as inspiring
01:00 AM EST on Monday, February 4, 2008

Friends of James K. Imonti Jr. — shot in the back, allegedly by his father-in-law, outside a Food Lion store in Carrboro, N.C. — said the former Rhode Islander had pulled himself from the depths of substance abuse and become a powerful, nationally known motivational speaker and counselor who helped many thousands deal with their substance abuse problems.
News accounts late last week noted only Imonti’s drug problems.
“He did countless, endless amounts of service to the community, service to the incarcerated, the homeless, those afflicted with addiction and alcoholism, people in general. He was the epitome of compassion and kindness,” said his friend Sean Garedo, who was so inspired by Imonti he asked him to be the godfather of his daughter. “He spoke with so much enthusiasm, passion and commitment, his message was heard by the deafest of ears.”
A Rhode Island School of Design graduate and Air Force veteran of the Vietnam War, Imonte had a jewelry business, Imonti Designs, and served as his own distributor. He spent most of his life in Rhode Island, residing in Cranston, and moved to Carrboro, just west of Chapel Hill, in 2002. He died at the age of 59.
Friends say Imonti’s transformation came in 1989, after years of living on the edge, occasional trouble with the law, and, most important, the death of his 4-year-old daughter.
Once the change came, “he immediately made an impact on all the addicts in the Greater Providence area,” said Jerry Urso, who has traveled the conference circuit with Imonti. “He would go to detoxes and treatment centers and carry the message of hope to people in prison.”
“He was particularly proud that he was able to take the worst of the worst and change their lives forever. He would take homeless people into his [jewelry] business shop and help them get on their feet. There are so many people who are alive today because of him,” said Urso.
Garedo said Imonti became a familiar face in Rhode Island courtrooms, but this time giving judges advice about men and women in trouble with the law who had turned their lives around.
“James taught us to be fathers and husbands,” he said. “Getting people off drugs is the easy part, restoring them back into society is the hard part. Some of us have become basketball coaches, some have become other types of volunteers, we give back to society. One guy I know who James inspired has just become a radiologist.”
Known as “James I.” because people in 12-step programs don’t go by their full names, the Cranston resident chaired the state’s first major convention, in Warwick, for recovering addicts. He inspired convention groups, some as large as 10,000 people, around the country, said Urso, who spoke at Imonti’s memorial service Saturday at Holy Cross Church of God in Christ United, on Broad Street in Providence.
“I’ve been in Chicago and people would come to him and say, ‘You gave me such a hope, and I’ve been clean for two years,’ ” he recalled.
Garedo said he has traveled all over the United States and Canada. “No matter where I go, they ask if I know a guy named James I,” he said, explaining that recordings of Imonti’s talks have been repeatedly copied and passed around. “People tell me they heard him and he changed their lives forever.”
“He was the most passionate speaker I’ve ever heard,” said Urso. When he was before an audience, you could hear a pin drop “because you hung on every word. He’d take people on a roller-coaster ride that was his life. They would laugh with him, cry with him, and then he would wrap that all up in a bow and give people the gift of hope. And he did that for the last 19 years.”

Rhode Island news

Former Cranston man fatally shot in North Carolina
01:00 AM EST on Friday, February 1, 2008
By Timothy C. BarmannJournal Staff Writer
A former Cranston resident was shot and killed in a North Carolina grocery store parking lot on Monday, and the police arrested the man’s father-in-law for the crime.
James K. Imonti Jr., 59, was found face down, unconscious and unresponsive outside a Food Lion store in Carrboro, N.C., early Monday evening, according to the Carrboro police.
Imonti, a Carrboro resident, appeared to have been shot once in the upper back at close range, the police said. He was pronounced dead at the University of North Carolina Hospital. The police allege that Imonti’s father-in-law, Garland McRay King, 65, shot Imonti after the two argued in the parking lot near the Food Lion. The two had had a dispute for some time, the police said in a statement.
The police said King, a Chapel Hill resident, was found with a handgun at the scene and was arrested. King was charged with first-degree murder, according to a police report.
Jihan Ali, a graduate student at the University of North Carolina, walked out of the grocery store and saw a man yelling at a man lying on the ground, the Daily Tarheel reported. Ali said the assailant tugged at the victim’s pants, as if to drag him, partially pulling off the pants.
Jihan said another man told the assailant to move away from the victim, and the assailant went to a nearby car, a sedan parked in a handicapped space, and waited until the police arrived, according to the newspaper account.
Imonti, a Providence native and a former resident of Edgewood, moved to North Carolina in 2002, according to an obituary in The Providence Journal.
He worked as a jewelry distributor for his own company, Imonti Designs, the obituary said. He studied jewelry design at the Rhode Island School of Design and graduated in 1978 from the Jewelry Institute in Providence. He worked as a model maker for Trifari, Marvella, Monet, Swarovski and other jewelry manufacturers before starting his own business. He was an Air Force veteran of the Vietnam War and a member of Holy Cross Church of God in Christ United.
He is survived by his wife, Lovey King-Imonti, and five children. Emily L. Imonti, his daughter by a previous marriage, died in 1989 at age 4.

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