Jim Whelan’s parents brought up the kind of family he intends to raise – and the way he intends to raise them. They did it right, he says.
Bob and Mary Ellen Whelan have five kids, starting with Jim and finishing with twin girls. Bob gave up a position with a good company because the company wanted him to relocate every year or so, and he decided the heck with that. Bob wanted his kids to sink roots, like he’d had. So he went to work with his dad, who founded and owned an electrical distribution business in Dayton called Summit Industries, Inc.
“Dad ended up taking over the business when my grandfather eyed retirement,” Jim says. “Owning a small business requires a huge time commitment. He’d work a full five and a half days each week, always in the office every Saturday morning and not many holidays off. But he always found time to coach all of us and be involved in all our extracurriculars.
“His work stayed at work. When he was home, he was present. It was an example growing up that didn’t quite resonate with me until I had my own young family.”
Jim grew up in the Dayton suburb of Kettering. Jim followed in his dad’s steps, graduating from Archbishop Alter High School and Xavier University. Bob also passed along to his eldest his love for the Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Reds, and a well-poured Manhattan.
Jim was a big kid, head and shoulders taller than anyone else in his class. He was all about anything having to do with sports – basketball, baseball and football. Things came relatively easily, he says, because of his size advantage. He had an idea that, someday, he was going to be the next Brian Grant, a power forward for the Xavier Musketeers.
As sometimes happens, or maybe sooner or later to almost all of us, Jim’s world took a 180 one day when he was a seventh grader, engaged in one of his favorite things. He was playing the offensive line, standing next to a pile-up when one of the other kids rolled off and into Jim’s left leg, tearing that ACL. The docs ruled out surgery because, at Jim’s age, it would have stunted the growth in that leg.
Jim acknowledges he had to make an adjustment. Another part of him shrugs it off.
“My 12-year-old identity was wrapped up in athletics. I thought of myself as this guy who had a future in sports. Suddenly, I couldn’t do much of anything. You’re not as much a part of the team and what’s happening when you’re injured. At the time, it was awful.
“So you adapt. I got into golf, a sport you can play with bum wheels. It’s something I’ve really come to enjoy. Even with the lack of practice parenthood affords, I can hold my own.”
Jim and his wife, Sarah, have three young boys. This past year, they each coached their kids during various basketball, tee ball and soccer seasons. As they continue to introduce their boys to different sports, Jim hopes they like golf enough to complete his dream foursome.
Worth noting is that Jim is a member in good standing of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick Glee Club, an all-men’s a capella group. During the two weeks of the High Holy Season, the Sons are raising the roof at 35 venues all over town, performing their four-part harmonies at churches, nursing homes, various charitable events and the like for all they’re worth.
Jim joined Graydon in 2005 as the Firm’s Marketing Coordinator. Now as Graydon’s Chief Business Development Officer, he sees his role as one of helping its attorneys live a bit more in the future.
“The nature of their work compels them to focus on what’s on their desk, what has to be done today. It’s my job to encourage them to think about tomorrow.
“The Firm has a remarkably rich history but has never been afraid to try new things, to transform. As we approach our 150th year, yes, we’ve been around a long time -- but we don’t look or act like it. Graydon has had a real impact in the community, and our plan is to continue the tradition.”
As Graydon’s Chief Business Development Officer, Jim is responsible for leading, establishing the direction of, and overseeing the Business Development and Marketing function of the Firm. Jim has been affiliated with Graydon since 2005, but also draws from experience in the A/E/C and government industries.
Jim is an alumnus of Xavier University, an avid supporter of Xavier basketball, and has served as a mentor in the University’s Mentor Program. He also served the Legal Marketing Association as the Midwest Region – Ohio Leadership Steering Committee Co-Chair/Secretary.
When not spending time with his wife, Sarah, and three sons, Jim can be found on an area golf course or singing Irish ditties throughout the community with the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick.