Greyshirts Take on New Role: Father Figure

Julie H. Case

Team Rubicon volunteers and staff find family in the ranks.

Some dads draft their kids into Team Rubicon’s volunteer ranks. Some kids draft their fathers instead. And some Greyshirts never get the chance to serve together, but find a father figure in the Team Rubicon’s volunteer ranks, instead.

That’s what happened to Jazmin Marshall, Team Rubicon’s major gift officer for the Southeast territory. In 2019, Marshall was interviewing for her job at Team Rubicon when her dad, Robert “Rob” Nevis, died of a massive heart attack while on duty as an EMT.

Marshall got the job and soon made a connection with Jim Flory, deputy director of regional operations for the Southeast. Soon, she found him advising her, taking care of her, and even pushing her as her own father might have. First, Flory helped her acclimate to Team Rubicon’s mission and style. Then, he goaded her into deploying—first on Rebuild in Houston, then for Patriot South, a joint exercise between Team Rubicon and the National Guard, by which time Marshall was 21 weeks pregnant.

In stepped father figure Flory.

“He made sure that I did not have to sleep in the barracks, and that I got a room to myself with a shower and everything,” she says. “He also was supportive to make sure I didn’t have to eat the MREs.”

Jazmin Marshall, holding a photo of her father, Rob Nevis, and her new father figure, Jim Flory.

Maybe it’s just Flory’s nature; maybe it’s because he’s expecting his own first grandchild this September, but the relationship between the Greyshirts has continued to blossom, even in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

“During one of our recent conversations we were talking about home birth,” says Marshall. “It was just so funny because he immediately went into like firefighter paramedic mode like ‘well what’s your emergency plan, just make sure you have a backup plan.’ It’s just exactly what my dad would have said.”

Then she laughs and confesses that she knows Flory knows his stuff. During his career as a firefighter, he delivered seven babies in emergency situations himself.

A firefighter, just as Nevis had been. Flory himself grows a little sentimental discussing Nevis, even though the two never met.

“Damn, I forgot that he was a firefighter too,” mused Flory. “Now I’ve got dust in my eyes!”

(Read Jazmin Marshall’s reflection After Losing My Father, a Greyshirt Steps In)


Sawyers Get Fatherly

Marshall isn’t the only person to find a father figure within the Team Rubicon ranks. Greyshirt Lucy Loftus’s passion for family and for Team Rubicon has meant she’s inducted her sons into the Greyshirt ranks. But it’s two men from the Team Rubicon volunteer leader ranks that have helped fill some gaps for Loftus.

“Not everyone had the benefit of growing up with parents that were great mentors,” explains Loftus in her recent Father’s Day reflection, Finding Father Figures in Grey—and Man Glitter. “Many of the fathers in Team Rubicon bring their guidance to training and operations, which benefits those of us who missed out on that experience. Neither Philip Jacobs nor Eric Mayranen are technically my father, but both have played mentor to me.”

That kind of compassion and fatherly guidance extends down the Rubicon-Loftus lines, too. On his first op, Loftus’s youngest son, also a sawyer, said that if Mayranen taught him one more thing, he’d have to start calling him Dad.

(Read Lucy Loftus’s reflection Finding Father Figures in Grey—and Man Glitter.)

Heading into Father’s Day, Team Rubicon salutes all of the Greyshirt fathers and father figures volunteering across the United States.

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