Huntington explained, “Jim is what we call an oratoreador – an orator who specializes in throwing the bull around.”
As the roast got underway, Dr. Jim Roberts, Batesville Community School Corp. superintendent, praised the center of attention “for your vision, perseverance and patience in establishing a wonderful campus here in Batesville. Specifically, I thank you for working with us” to allow Batesville High School students to take free ITCC dual credit courses.
Roberts pointed out, “You are certainly a man of many talents. We share at least one … the ability to do Elvis Presley.” Changing into a flashy outfit onstage, the speaker wondered, “If you have two Elvises, do you actually say Elvi?” Then Roberts flung a purple sequin scarf to his friend and they performed together to a roar of approval.
Two other buddies, Steve Daily, ITCC Kokomo chancellor and former Kokomo mayor, and John Whikehart, ITCC Bloomington chancellor emeritus and Bloomington deputy mayor, presented 10 observations about Helms. Whikehart teased, “At chancellors’ meetings for over 16 years, we thought Jim was quiet because he was keeping secrets. We eventually decided he just didn’t know what we were talking about.” Another gem: “The local radio station has a special weather report called Jim Helms weather – 72 and hazy.”
Margaret Stewart, who has worked with Helms for 40 years, first at East Central and then as Ivy Tech Southeast vice chancellor, recalled an ECHS incident. “Being in education, you have lots of show and tell,” she said, holding up a car door handle. She reminisced about the time Elton Linville was driving his Ford Fiesta, “a cross between a pumpkin and a Volkswagen. It was little and it was orange.” Helms was in the front passenger seat and Stewart, being most petite, was in the back seat.
Helms couldn’t get his door handle open. He “tried one more time and it came off in his hands. That isn’t the funny part ... You should have seen him coming out of that bucket seat, over the console and under the steering wheel to get out!”