Special to the Times
Times’ feature writer Rick Neilson recently attended the 50th birthday celebration held for Kim Jo Bliss.
Part of Rick’s article appeared in the Focus on Farming piece published last week as space allowed.
What follows is a series of additional comments made by and about Kim Jo by many of her friends who attended the party.
A central theme for Kim Jo revolves around the friendships she’s made through the years.
“I have friends from school who live in Fort Frances but it is a big deal to see them because we live different lives,” Kim Jo Bliss explained during her 50th birthday celebration.
“I have so much respect for people like Tom Morrish,” she added. “I always listened to what Tom would say at a meeting because of what he had done and he was involved; the same for Ken McKinnon.
“We didn’t always agree but at the end of the meeting it was all fine. I really appreciated that.
“Kenny Fisher was good to me,” noted Bliss.
“And James Gibson, he is good for our community. We have become good friends.”
Bliss said she grew up with a brother, Shane, and two neighbour boys.
“I wasn’t a typical girl. I didn’t play with dolls. I was definitely much more of a tomboy, so I didn’t struggle with that,” she said. “I have so many friends. I am so lucky.”
Bliss noted that at the ag research station, people will come to look at a soil test or a weed, and end up telling her “a lot of other things.”
“I feel like ‘counsellor’ should be part of my job title,” she remarked.
“People tell me that it is because I am so friendly. I ask them how things are going and they tell me how things are going–good or bad. I guess that it a good thing!”
Bliss feels she has a lot of really good friends, but admitted she is not quick to ask for help.
“And I get into trouble for that. People say, ‘Why don’t you ask?’. . . But I don’t know . . .,” she shrugged.
At one point, Bliss was hoping that she would be in a good enough spot to be able to turn EARS over to someone else when she was 45 or 50, but now she is not so sure.
“We have some cool projects and also I feel so excited about the grain growth and the young people like Timo and Calvin and Philip Kraun. That is exciting for me,” she noted.
“And Nelson Nighswander is considering dry beans. I just feel that I am not ready to be done yet,” Bliss concluded.
Debbie Zimmerman, whose two grandchildren are the same ages as the Matty and Marley, described her best friend, Kimmy, as “a true friend.”
“She is dedicated, focused, organized and a homebody. It is like she is an extended part of me.
“We think and act alike, and sometimes say the same thing at the same time and then get kind of freaked out!
“We get each other, and she has always been there for me,” Zimmerman explained.
As for Bliss’s surprise 50th birthday party, Zimmerman suggested that it was the best way to have a party.
“We had a live band, good food and everyone had a great time!” she enthused.
Timo Brielmann and Kim Jo Bliss are also best friends.
“We have a running joke that we are married,” Brielmann chuckled.
“We just get along. We click. We think the same about everything, so it is nice sometimes to catch up with her.
Brielmann said Bliss is his connection to Emo.
“I call her every once in a while to say hi, and we talk about farming and complain about things that don’t work and talk about the good things, too,” he mentioned.
“She’s nice! We are friends and she means a lot to me,” added Brielmann.
Bliss said there’s no doubt–Jason Teeple is her best friend in the whole world.
“He does so much for me. I always think that if I were to spend the rest of my life paying him back, I could not repay him for the things he has done for me,” she noted.
“I feel so fortunate that Clayton has never, not once, ever been bothered by our friendship and I know that some people would have issues with it. And with Chantelle, it is the same. Her and I are good friends.
“Jason is like a brother. I was his best man when he and Chantelle got married,” Bliss added.
Jason and Kim Jo became friends when she was in 4-H with his older brother and Jason was still too young to join 4-H.
“She is a good friend,” he said. “If I need help she is there and I know what she needs and I am there to help.
“She asks for my advice and takes it, except that she won’t take my advice on putting a white bull with her red cows,” he quipped.
“I help her because she helps the district with all the work that she does,” Jason Teeple stated.