Jim Stroupe, the 86-year-old World War II, Korea and Vietnam veteran who died after being struck by a city bus, was a hero in peace as well as in war. In the spring and summer of 2008, when the battle between Asheville residents and developers over the Parkside condos was at its peak, this man — with a frail body but a strong voice, a sharp wit and a powerful spirit — came every single day, always wearing his veteran's cap, to the old magnolia tree in front of City Hall to help guard it from being cut down. He spoke out publicly against the county's sale of George W. Pack's deeded public parkland to private special interests as a violation of the democracy he had fought to defend. But he also kept a light heart, remarking to activist Clare Hanrahan on July 4, for example, "It's a nice place to sit. The air conditioning won't cost you anything."
When my wife, Lady Passion, and I lived for three months under the tree, Jim and his wife Francie brought us food, coffee and encouragement every day. At one point in the long ordeal, when I was beginning to think privately that our cause was hopelessly quixotic, he told me out of the blue. "Steve, I have a feeling you're going to win this." I asked him how he knew, and he repeated with certainty that he just had a strong feeling about it. Figuring you don't question the gut instincts of a guy who's survived three wars, I took heart from that day forward; and of course he proved right. When Pack's descendants won their lawsuit against the sale in superior court, he said to Lady Passion, with tears in his eyes, "All my buddies that died in all the wars I've fought did not die in vain because of what happened today."
Nor was Jim's death in vain, if it saves Asheville citizens' lives by calling attention to the apparently lax safety practices of the multinational transit corporation that holds the contract for our city's transit fleet.
— Steve Rasmussen