James D. Boone, or Jim as he was known to his friends, became an employee of the Marine Institute in 1986 where he instructed Marine Emergency Courses and had been doing crucial research related to offshore safety and survival in Marine Safety for the Marine Institute, NRC and Transport Canada. Jim designed a revolutionary “no fail” hook-release system for life rafts that is currently being implemented on a number of vessels.
Jim became a fast friend to John Rao when he attended a post-show talk of John’s production of State One (2004), a protest piece against the US Invasion of Iraq.
Jim’s marine safety/engineering background couldn’t be more different than John’s fine arts background, but it was this difference where they found
John’s subsequent art projects and productions were always attended by Jim and his wife Carol. Jim had more than a few words to say about John’s work. He was always supportive and critical – an important characteristic in a friend for John. He always challenged John’s work, but also served as a sounding board whenever John struggled for the voice or direction of a piece. It was Jim’s unique and always well informed perspective that John appreciated. John once said, “Jim was like a brother I never had, a kindred spirit.”
In April 2009 Jim was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) and succumbed to the disease October 15th of the same year. John named his newly formed Performing Arts award after Jim to honor
his memory and their great friendship.