Jim Sazani, 59:

Riding Horses in Heaven

2003: Jim Sazani, 59, died fighting complications from Lyme


April 18, 2003

Man fights Lyme disease to end

By Emily Slater

Up to his last hour, a local horseman remained hopeful he would beat the disease that crippled his legs, but not his spirit.

Jim Sazani, 59, died fighting complications from Lyme disease Saturday at Lompoc Hospital.

A memorial mass to celebrate his life was held Wednesday at Queen of Angels Catholic Church in Lompoc.

Inurnment was at Lompoc Evergreen Cemetery.

"He never gave up," said Judi Sazani, Jim's wife of 38 years. "He was hopeful he would get through; there was always something going on in life that kept him alive."

Jim once predicted he would fight to the end.

In an Adobe Press interview last July, he said he was far from giving up.

"When they take me, I will be kicking and screaming," he said.

The pain, however, became too much for Jim to bear.

Jim spent three weeks in the intensive care unit before his death, during which time doctors had to resuscitate him. Jim finally reached a point where he said, "No more," according to Judi.

"He got weaker and weaker and couldn't hold on any more," she said.

The process of his degeneration started a few years ago. The engineer began falling 10 times a day and eventually landed in a wheelchair.

He traced his muscle-wasting to a tick bite in 1998.

"He was miserable. He was trapped inside his body and he couldn't get out," Judi explained.

Now, she believes her husband is riding horses in heaven.

Jim bred and trained driving horses at Sazana Rosa Saddlebred Farm in Nipomo for 18 years - his passion.

After Lyme disease confined Jim to a wheelchair, the view of his ranch haunted him.

"I would rather move than look outside and see everything I can't do," Sazani said. "That's torture for me."

The Sazanis sold their Nipomo ranch last summer and moved to Lompoc. There, Judi received support from family members.

An independent man, Sazani was forced to rely on others for his daily survival.

"I'm like taking care of a 170-pound baby," he once said.

Although he required assistance, Jim more than rewarded his caretakers, according to friends and family.

"He influenced a lot of people and he loved working with children. He was a pretty special guy," Judi said.

Friend Ida Berry once said, "If you need someone to talk to, he's the one."

Jim was born Sept. 5, 1943, in New York. He attended Texas A&M University and later served at Vandenberg Air Force Base with the Air Force. During his time in the service, he decided to settle on the Central Coast, where he raised his family. Jim worked as an engineer for 33 years. He was also active in youth sports programs and coached everything from basketball, baseball and football to girl's softball. He was an avid scuba diver, fisherman, English sports car fanatic, history buff and, above all, a dedicated horseman. Memorial contributions, in lieu of flowers, may be made in Jim Sazani's name to the Lyme Disease Association, Inc., P.O. Box 1438, Jackson, N.J. 08527. April 18, 2003 © Copyright 2001 Pulitzer Central Coast Newspapers.