In Memory of Jim Sirbasku
By Beth Ellen Hunziker
Sitting on the veranda, facing west, I am gazing into a blazing sunset. It's an unbelievable sight. The darkening silhouette of the land rises up to meet the gold, purple, and magenta clouds. Heaven and earth embrace. It is a lovely end to another day - but what about tomorrow? It makes me think about a quote I recently read - I'm not sure to whom it's attributed - it said anonymous. It went like this: "The past is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift - that's why it's called the present". What a glorious gift it is. Enjoy everyday and try to make it special for every one you meet.
It seems as though the person who penned that quote was writing about Jim Sirbasku. He was a brilliant and successful businessman, a highly respected breeder of fine Arabian horses, a major contributor to the Arabian horse industry, and one of the kindest, most generous members of our community. No matter who you were, visiting royalty from a foreign land or a volunteer at The Pyramid Society booth, Jim Sirbasku greeted everyone with a warm smile and acknowledged you with respect.
Jim had a deep appreciation of quality and beauty, as well as a sense of honor and responsibility - hence his love and devotion to his wife, Judy, and his generous contributions to the Arabian horse community. Judy loved the horses and Jim loved Judy - she was his inspiration and motivation for participating in areas they believed could have a positive impact. Jim and Judy were a very special couple. Over the years they learned a thing or two about hard work and commitment - in 2009 they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.
Together, Jim and Judy Sirbasku enjoyed working with Arabian horses for over thirty years. It all began in 1978 when Jim surprised Judy with a gift of several horses he had bought from David Gardner as a tax write off. Judy surprised Jim by telling him she had already met David and his wife Marion at some of the local shows, and in fact she had taken the kids out to see the straight Egyptian Arabian horses at Bentwood Farm, the facility that David managed. It was a wonderful coincident that changed their lives forever. Judy fell in love with the beauty and character of the Egyptian horses and Jim, a successful entrepreneur, became intrigued by the horse industry from a business perspective.
Jim and Judy became close friends, and eventually business partners with David and Marion Gardner. The Gardners were already recognized as accomplished Arabian horse breeders and the couples spent a great deal of time together as Judy and Jim established their business, Rock Creek Arabians. Jim and Judy were a great team. She loved to be with the horses, and to study pedigrees and bloodlines with the hope of someday breeding top quality Egyptian Arabian horses. Jim's love, besides Judy, was business. When he saw a need, he immediately began to plan a business that would fulfill that need.
Jim Sirbasku noticed a lack of information for newcomers to the Arabian horse breed. It seemed no one was actively working to reach out to the public, to provide a forum for introducing people to the Arabian horse, or working to establish and develop the involvement of people new to the breed. Jim and David Gardner created the solution - they called it Arabians Ltd. Their purpose was to educate, serve, and support new and emerging breeders of Arabian horses. For more than 20 years, Jim Sirbasku worked with his wife Judy, David and Marion Gardner, and Arabians Limited Manager, Shawn Crews to assist and guide hundreds of people, while helping to expand the interest, appreciation, and participation of the Arabian horse breed.
Over the years, Jim and Judy Sirbasku also continued to develop their own straight Egyptian breeding program at Rock Creek Arabians. They had selected a wonderful group of mares that they bred to the best stallions available and they produce some amazing horses. Their breeding program had evolved to a high level of quality. But in 1997, it took a huge leap forward when Jim and Judy purchased one of the most important Egyptian sires in the world, Thee Desperado (The Minstril x AK Amiri Asmarr by Theegyptian Prince), bred by Tom and Martha Salome.
Thee Desperado was already a successful show horse and sire, but Jim and Judy provided him with the opportunity to fulfill his highest potential and to really make his mark on the Arabian breed. Today there are sons and daughters of Thee Desperado in breeding programs around the world. He is currently the leading living sire of straight Egyptian Arabians in the world. The Sirbasku's success, as well as Thee Desperado's success as a sire, stems from the Sirbasku's core purpose; they have achieved their personal success by assisting others in achieving their goals.
Jim and Judy Sirbasku found their purpose, their life's work, was in service to others within the Arabian horse community and around the world. Jim Sirbasku co-founded Profiles International in 1991. He was the company CEO and provided the organization with the vision, leadership and motivation to become a powerful and influential force in employee selection, placement and training in tens of thousands of national and international businesses. Since its inception Profiles International has delivered over 45,000,000 assessments to over 40,000 organizations in 122 countries. One of the areas of talent and career assessments that Jim was most excited about was for high school students. The program was designed to help young people discover their talents and give them purpose and direction for their futures.
The contributions made by the Sirbaskus have been enormous. Jim served as a member of the Board of Directors for the Pyramid Society for eight years. They both served on numerous committees and were patrons and sponsors of the Egyptian Event for many years. Jim was a very creative person and a brilliant problem-solver. He always wanted to be part of the solution to any situation and was willing to give of his time and resources to create opportunities for growth. Jim was very proud to have been one of the founding members, and a member of the Board of Directors, of the Arabian Horse Breeders Alliance, the organizers of the highly successful Arabian Breeders World Cup Championships, held in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Although Jim was a very successful businessman, his closest relationships were with people in the Arabian horse industry; they were his lifelong friends. Judy has said that she is completely surprised and overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support from the Arabian horse community and from friends and people around the world. It is all the untold kindness and generosity that Jim showed to others that is now returning for him. Jim was big man - a powerful man, but his greatest strength was not in his physical ability to dominate another - it was his willingness to extend a helping hand, to assist people in finding their purpose, and to reach their highest potential. Jim was certainly one of a kind. We may not have his gifts and talents, but we do all share the ability to show kindness and respect to one another and to make some else's life special - just like Jim.