In Loving Memory of James Eterno
Reposts from iceuftblog.blogspot.com
It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of our dear friend and colleague, James Eterno, on February 6, 2024. James was a cherished member of our community, and his absence will be deeply felt.
James’ life was marked by his unwavering dedication to education and his tireless advocacy for teachers and students alike. His contributions to the ICE-UFT blog have been invaluable, and his insights and wisdom will be sorely missed.
In honor of James’ memory, we would like to invite all who knew him to share their anecdotes and memories of James. Whether it’s a story that makes you smile, a lesson he taught you, or simply a sentiment about what James meant to you, we welcome your contributions.
Please submit your anecdotes and memories to Jeff Kaufman at JeffBKaufman@gmail.com. Jeff will be compiling these tributes and sharing them on the ICE-UFT blog, as a testament to the remarkable impact James had on all of us.
In these difficult times, let us come together to remember James, to celebrate his life, and to carry forward the values and principles he held dear.
Thank you for your contributions. Your words will help keep James’ spirit alive in our hearts and in our community.
With deepest sympathy,
Jeff Kaufman, ICE-UFT
My memories of James Eterno
I started reading the ICE blog in June 2013 to pass time when I was reassigned to Fordham Plaza after an OSI investigation filed against me by my principal. Thankfully my charges were dropped and my record was cleared. I like to not think about my time in the reassignment center but I will always remember the lessons I learned from reading the ICE blog that spring and summer. James' work helped me gain a greater appreciation and fascination with union politics and union history. It propelled me to write my Masters thesis on UFT history, the evolution of due process and the grievance procedure.
I met James at an ICE Meeting in 2014. I was with two colleagues and we were announcing to ICE that we were creating new caucus (UFT Solidarity) focused on bread-and-butter workplace issues and correcting malfeasance in the UFT leadership. I don't remember what I said, I only remember a lot of shouting back and forth and James' kind warmth toward myself and my friends. While we didn't win ICE's support in '14, we did win the individual respect of James and his wife, Camille.
I can credit many UFT activists for teaching me how to organize members around common concerns, how to co-run a caucus, how to work together with different groups, and how to help UFT members on the best and worst days. James modeled all this with patience and grace. James supported UFT Solidarity's campaign in 2019 and believed in me as a unionist. James supported my candidacy as UFT President in 2019 and my run (and very brief tenure) as a High School Executive Board member in 2022.
While I am no longer in the NYC Department of Education or involved in UFT politics anymore, I can look back upon my hard work serving educators in NYC with pride because of what James modeled through his compassion, empathy and care. The opposition movement will remain viable and strong thanks to the roots James planted. However, the UFT has lost one of the greats and that is tragic. James Eterno was one in a million and while he cannot be replaced, his light will always shine.
Editor’s Note: In the fall of last year, we helped create a recovery fund for James and his family. The family will soon post more about arrangements and ways to express our grief, condolences and gratitude and celebrations of his life. In the meantime, the recovery fund page is still open and contributions to the family are appreciated. It goes directly to his wife, Camille, and his children, Kara and Matthew.
James was also a writing contributor to The Wire. His voice, mentorship, activism and friendship is a void we cannot fill. Our love, hearts and condolences go to the Eterno family.