September 21, 2018

Former employees remember Jim Messmer’s ‘unconditional love’

Jim Messmer was one of the first people to contact his former employee Candice Shelton when she was hospitalized in March. Messmer’s get well message included an inside joke about bringing her a cupcake from when she worked for him seven years earlier.

Jim Messmer left behind his wife and two daughters after passing away unexpectedly Monday, July 9. Messmer served as the assistant director of Information Technology Services Management at Webster University.

Shelton was a single mother of four with a newborn when she took the job. Shelton said she often arrived late and feared she might lose her job, but Messmer never gave up on her.

“You don’t really find too many people who have that type of good heart and that type of unconditional love for people or humanity,” Shelton said.

Ben Simon also worked under Messmer from 2007 to 2010. He visited Messmer after graduating, but Simon said they kept in touch over Facebook. Simon credited their frequent comments and likes on each other’s posts to their similar sense of humor.

Simon said both he and Messmer shared an appreciation for boxing and spent many lunch breaks talking about the latest match. Messmer gave a signed poster of former World Champion boxer Emile Griffith to Simon. The poster still hangs in Simon’s apartment, and he said it has become a centerpiece to his home.

Simon and Shelton said Messmer was the office jokester. Shelton said he would often try to make her laugh during phone calls with customers. Messmer put Simon on probation at one point, but Simon said they were still able to remain friends.  

“He had a strange way of being a boss when he needed to, and being a friend when he needed to,” Simon said.

Shelton said Messmer always listened and tried to help in any way he could. She said he made the IT service desk like a family.

“Everyone was equal [at work]. Everyone was happy,” Shelton said.

Webster University issued a statement Wednesday offering counseling services to all students, faculty and staff. Webster provided specific counseling sessions in the Luhr Building for IT employees and student workers.

Shelton said Messmer taught her how to smile even when she was in pain and how to not judge someone on their appearance and background.

“I’m black, but it’s not always is easy to be understood by a person who’s not black,” Shelton said. “I felt like Jim probably showed me how to truly be unjudging.”

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