Jeff was one of my best friends. I was shocked to hear this sad news. On hearing of his passing, my mind was filled with all the fun and adventures we had together.
In my youth we played a lot of backyard football. I was his favorite wide receiver. The disability caused by polio seemed like an advantage for him. He played harder and could run just as fast as everyone else. This trait followed him his entire life. Jeff never, ever gave up. We grew up across the street from each other and then had the opportunity to work together for a long, long time.
we often accompanied each other on business trips to Philadelphia, Baltimore, and traveled throughout NJ, PA and MD. He was a hard worker and always got the job done. Jeff worked hard and he played hard and I have hundreds of stories regarding both. At a Phillies games we heckled Atlanta's pitcher John Smoltz so badly during warm-ups that we were ejected before the game even started. We bought tickets from a scalper and walked back in. We were involved in a midget tossing contest in a bar in Philadelphia. I realize that is not politicly correct these days, but it was a long time ago and we finished third. We explored every inch of Baltimore. Doing the pub crawl in Fells Point , feasting on crabs in the Baltimore Harbor, walking Greek Town and Little Italy. We spend a lot of time together in airports, planes or driving in rental cars. We talked about so many people and events in our lives. However, what Jeff talked about most was his family. He was a dedicated and loving husband and father. Like any Dad, he worried about his children as they grew up. We shared our concerns about our children many, many times. Learning from each other and striving to be the best fathers we could be. Mary and Jeff were High School sweethearts and he constantly spoke about how lucky he was to have met her.
Truth be told, Jeff was my brother's friend. They were both older than me. However, they always included me in everything. Then the three of us had the chance to work together.
When my brother passed away, Jeff never left my side. He stood by me and gave me the strength to carry on. Jeff is the definition of a True Friend.
As I struggle to write this, my phone is constantly ringing with friends grieving over Jeff's passing. Friends and former co-workers from our past. Some live here in WNY and some from states many miles away. All of them had a happy memory to share about Jeff. What surprised me most was that Jeff still called them, just to check on them. Joe from Philly reminisced about Jeff calling him after Joe's wife passed away. A friend from NJ, told me about Jeff's call after the birth of his first grandchild.
A life that touches other goes on forever. Jeff has touched us all. The Bible says that "Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted." I wish that all these memories help to comfort his family and friends.
I was so fortunate to have a friend like Jeff for such a long time.
May God bless Jeff and his family through this difficult time.
Jeff was my cousin, and he was also my buddy as a child, and my confidant as an adult. I grew up in Missouri near our grandparents' farm. When Jeff would come to visit every summer, we'd spend most of our time feeding baby calves on the bucket, wandering the fields, hunting rabbits, and playing on the rocks and in the pool created by a spring. Mostly, I remember laughing. In those childhood experiences, we developed a bond that would last a lifetime.
Though we didn't see one another for years, our connection never wavered. Our phone conversations sometimes lasted for hours as we shared our experiences, our thoughts, and our hearts. We shared our love for our families and our faith. Loving and being loved by Jeff was a special thing. After a conversation with him, I always felt humbled, because he loved me more than I deserved.
I will always be grateful that God chose to make us family. I am grateful the pain he fought through the last years of his life are over, but I will always miss him. I'll miss hearing Jeff say, "I love you, Sweetie. Now you stay strong."
He used to call me his hero. In the end he was mine. When I remember my brother my thoughts go back to our childhood and I see that little guy who was full of energy and smiles, as gregarious as the rest of us, seeking adventure in the nearby fruit orchards of Yakima WA, climbing the trees, daming irrigation ditches and searching for ripe fruit to bring home. There were no fences then in our neighborhood and we were free to roam with the rest of “our gang”.
Jeff never let his polio caused physical limitations hold him back. He ran, jumped, rode bikes and horses and competed in neighborhood sports with the rest of us. When we chose sides, Jeff was never the last one picked. He loved basketball and was a coach later in life.
I will always remember my brother for the enormous heart that was his. Need someone to talk to? Need a favor? Need some financial help? Jeff was always there with open arms and open heart.
Jeff loved his family, wife Mary, daughter Mandy and son Harry. He always had nice things to say about each of them. He tried hard to be the best husband and dad that he could be.
Jeff loved St Simon’s and his parish family dearly. It was largely an older congregation and he gave many eulogies. I remember him telling me about working the Lenten fish fries. He said that if you worked one it was like being born into bondage. Many times it was just Jeff and I finishing cleanup.
Jeff was my favorite tailgate partner at Buffalo Bill’s and South Carolina Gamecock football games. We must have seen hundreds of games together.
In the last years of my brother’s battle with post polio syndrome I came to realize how strong he was, what a fighter he was and how positive he was throughout the ordeal.
Jeff always looked up to me, the older brother. In the end I was dwarfed by his shadow. But from my brother, it was a shadow of light, of hope, of healing, of love.
To my brother, my hero, I will always hold you in the warmth of my heart, remembering the good times and eagerly awaiting the reunification of our souls, our spirits, in the Life After.
I love you my brother,