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Un Homenaje a Jeff


(An Homage to Jeff)

(Title a bit pretentious perhaps, but just offbeat enough 

that we hope Jeff would approve.  PBSII, no doubt, would.)


(Cherry Red and Silver background to signify Jeff's school spirit)




Jeff's senior picture - Accolade 1963


According to Flip, Jeff's memorial service may take place this spring.  His ashes will be scattered at the Golden Gate by The Neptune Society.  We will post any new information we receive.


Sad news:  Jeff S., the President of the M/THS Alumni Association, member of the Class of 1963, Princeton undergraduate and Stanford Law graduate, and the single most important person in the organization over the last two decades in terms of personal time spent managing it for free, annual work publishing the alumni directory that has enabled hundreds, perhaps thousands of old friends to reconnect, and much more, passed away in San Francisco, Tuesday evening, September 24, following a long illness and hospitalization.  When we learn funeral arrangements, we'll post them.


This page is devoted to Jeff recognizing his accomplishments and the invaluable pro bono work he did to make the association and our reunions such successes.  More material to follow.  Check back soon.



Some reminiscences about Jeff from emails and our class message board



From Flip - May 2, 2009


Letter to Jeff's brother:

"At Sea off the Coast of Marin (CA) County"

This is the US flag I brought to have flown at half-mast today while we scattered Jeff’s ashes out on the Bay. I’m sending it to you to please keep as a remembrance of the day, May 2nd, when Jeff’s friends gathered to honor, remember, and mourn him.

The day dawned here with a heavy overcast, and a southerly wind brought promise of rains squalls by the time we arrived at the piers of the old Alameda Naval Air Station. To get to the (WWII) Tug “Mazepeta” that Jo L so brilliantly arranged for us to go out on the (San Francisco) Bay for the memorial service, we parked and walked down the long pier past several ships moored there including the gallant USS Hornet (now a museum ship). We arrived at the tug in ones, and twos, and introduced ourselves: friends of Jeff’s from the many different enterprises Jeff busied himself with (MHS Association was only one of many). The MHS’ers who made it there were Jo L, Joe D, Ray M, Dave W, and me [last names abbreviated by webmaster]. 


We saw by the stack smoke that the tug’s engineer had arrived before us to light off the engines, and after meeting the Captain, we climbed – with some help-from the crew – from the pier to the deck of the tug with no brow. Arrivals complete, the Captain had this flag hoisted on the tug’s halyard, the crew threw the lines over and we got underway about on time. It sprinkled on us a bit, as we made our way out of Alameda and across the inner harbor to the channel and headed toward the bay. 


No one paid any attention to the increasing wet as we stood or sat about on the fantail or galley and told each other how we came to know Jeff, and what we remember of him, of how the many compartments of his life seemed never to cross-connect, and of how we felt when he needlessly sickened and died. We all knew Jeff in very different ways, and it was arresting to learn of the (many!) different parts of Jeff’s life we hadn’t known much of. The consensus seemed to be of a brilliant and driven person who sadly had no intimate life-companion to be with, and to advocate for him, but who, for that reason, was able to give so much of himself to his many friends and pursuits. 


After churning our way down the channel and out of the inner harbor, we passed under the Golden Gate Bridge of the city Jeff loved so much. The swells and wind rose as we got out into Bonita Bay. The Captain slowed to a stop, turned slightly and made a lee, and had the flag half-masted, for Jeff’s service. I had brought a container of sand from the bullring in Sevilla gathered a few years ago, and put the sand with Jeff’s ashes. (Jeff was hardly a sentimentalist, but I think he would have forgiven me.) 


We gathered on the starboard side of the fantail from wherever we had been talking, and the rain eased off. Jo asked me to say a few words, which I can’t now recall, and Jo and I scattered some of Jeff’s ashes over the water, as then did some others there. We then scattered the rose petals and roses (which were from Tina and Mr. Sullivan’s widow) over the side. The roses and petals floated above the plume that Jeff’s ashes made down in the water, and all drifted away from us in the current. 


The memorial scattering made accurate the entry on the issued death certificate burial location, which reads, “At Sea off the Coast of Marin County”. The flag was then hoisted to full-mast as the tug turned about, and the rain resumed as we started making our way back. (Maybe to be buried in the rain is a fitting thing.) As we talked over the time it took to return to Alameda, there was the feeling that it wasn’t quite time to break up, in spite of the four hours together. So the plan was made as we headed back to go to a restaurant once we landed. And so we did, with the thought there that may be the Friends of Jeff’s might meet together again in a year to finish the business we had started of discovering who Jeff really was, well, as best we could anyway.

That’s all for now. You had a remarkable brother, just know that your grief and loss is carried and shared by many of us, and many others we’ve just met, and others we’ll never get to know.

Best, Always.

Flip A ‘63



From Roger H. (Lightly edited to remove last names).


Dear Jill -- I'm on the plane heading for San Francisco. It's the first time in a while I've been able to get out to that city where I lived for four years in the 1970s. And, until I got the news, I was planning to go see Jeff in the hospital -- hoping, perhaps to get a glimmer of recognition from him -- at least to say good-bye. Now, except for Jo and others we are grateful for tending to him, most of us have to say good bye by sharing our memories.

Jeff has done an amazing thing with this MHS network -- re-connecting us all in this community of memories and renewed friendship. But the Jeff I knew was a pretty unique personality who had quite an impact on me at MHS and Madrid. Jeff was one of my best friends -- a friendship that began because we lived in the same area of Madrid, near the Estadio and the Gran Via and so we rode the same bus to and from Torrejon. I was a pretty anti-social guy back then. In Jeff, I recognized a fellow nerd. He was one year older than me and he was still expanding his model railroad layout -- a little American world, really --that occupied a whole room in his (diplomatic corps) parents' apartment. From listening to LPs, he knew by heart the routines of comedians Bob Newhart, Shelly Berman, and Victor Borge, whose combination of puns, language play, and classical music seemed to fit Jeff's fertile mind and interests perfectly. 

But while I was serious and solitary, Jeff was constantly amused with the world -- and happy to engage with anyone, especially people who had a sense of humor and the absurd. The time I spent with Jeff and Sam and Mr. Sullivan in and around Russian class involved a multi-sided ping-pong game of outrageous puns and jokes in many languages going back to the origins of language and culture -- with Jeff and Sam egging on Sullivan because they could keep up with him. I read JD Salinger and Russian novels -- Jeff did that too, but he also regularly won choice roles in MHS theater productions and he was always provided the energy of the play. 

I discovered Madrid by trailing after Jeff as we bounced from the Prado to a great place to buy explosive chemicals to the premiere of the movie version of Kafka's The Trial -- in Spanish in one of the biggest theaters in Madrid. We didn't do a lot of drinking or dating, nerds that we were, but we had a great time on the loose in that great city. And somewhere I have the mimeographed application form that Jeff (and perhaps John P.) put together to screen applicants for an exclusive club: the International Fellowship in Defense of Learning and Culture. The actual name was longer -- and inevitably Jeff came up with an acronym. For Jeff, the world was a wonderful trove of treasures. I learned from him about music and literature and language and comedy. I learned about culture and intellectuals as a social force -- and I enjoyed his playful pillaging of American and European politics. 

Turns out I had a lot to remember about Jeff. He was important to a shy guy way back then. We moved away, I plunged into the full panoply of the 1960s – civil rights, Vietnam, politics (and probably a delayed adolescence) in places like Alabama, Virginia, DC, Atlanta. And by the time I got to San Francisco and Jeff and I finally got together in the late 70s, it was great to reconnect, but we didn’t have the same things in common and we didn’t get together much. Instead, Jeff got us ALL together, and even when I moved back east, I just started taking for granted that he would be sending me Xeroxed directories, looking for “lost sheep” and reminding me about reunions. And the DC reunion was the last time I saw Jeff. I was amazed at how friendly my classmates now were toward me. And there was Jeff, who never had to learn that. He was right in the middle of the far-flung group, enjoying the society of his best friends who knew each other in the best times of our lives. 

We’ll miss you, friend. Thanks for getting us all together. – Roger H. MHS 64


From Janice L.


One of my fondest memories of Jeff was a few years ago when I was in SF for work. I had called him and we arranged to meet at a favorite Spanish restaurant where he took over the ordering of both wine and food very capably. Then we jumped in some old white rattly sports car he had and he gave me a grand and very informative tour of "his" city. That was before he'd been exiled to Vallejo. He was dealt some pretty severe disappointments over the years, in love, career, domicile (about broke his heart when he had to leave SF) and he pretty much unfailingly dealt with them gracefully and with good (and very dry) humor. It was also delightful to see the joy he took in sharing his wine cellar at Ft. Lauderdale - great wine - it was like food! great company!

I spoke with him fairly often. I'll miss him. I have been missing him.


From Jill C.


One of the things I loved about Jeff was his great, dry sense of humor. I think my favorite memory of him will always be that Friday night at the Ft. Lauderdale when a bunch of us were in his suite till the wee small hours laughing up a storm. He was having such a good time and in top form.


Bless his feisty soul. I sorely missed his presence at the reunion and will forever do so.

From Tony R.


I never knew Jeff.

It appears that this is my loss.

I wish I had known him.

May he rest in peace.


From Sam

I've always thought of Jeff - ever since the fall of 1964 - with equal measures of affection, fondness, hilarity, admiration, guilt and shame.

Jeff, with his erstwhile partners in crime Mr. Pitts, Mr. Adams, Mr. Hickey, Miss (Lash) LaRue and above all Mr. Sullivan, was the spark to almost every day for me at MHS. I was lucky enough to have the Beloved Professor for three years of Latin and two years of Russian (with one overlapping year, I think), and Jeff was in all of them. The mental charge and challenge of just walking into class every day was incredible. Sometimes I think that if we had all stuck together for another couple of years the bunch of us would have cornered the market on Pulitzers, Nobels, Rhodes and any other grand thing available - such was the power of PBSII's ability to inspire and the potential of those of us who let him inspire us. A pretentious thought, but not all that much off the mark.

Once - since I was notorious for cramming for tests and hating pop quizzes - I was beautifully set up by Jeff and PBSII. I scooted into class just as the bell was ringing - no doubt doing my best to spend time with Bill T. between classes Rolling Eyes - only to find the map rolled down over the blackboard, with the tail ends of some Latin phrases peeking out at the left and right margins of the board. Oh damn! A quiz! Somehow containing their glee, and feigning complete innocence that I was in some way unaware of a well-known and announced quiz, PBSII agreed to five minutes of prep time. The whole damn class must have been in on it, because there was not a snicker or stifled laugh while I sat there sweating bullets over some passage from De Senectute or whatever the hell it was. Then came the dramatic reveal: PBSII rolled up the map ... to a BLANK blackboard except for random words written down the sides of the board. GOTCHA MISS STANLEY!!!

Jeff, as we all know, was more than a bit awkward socially. During junior year, he finally screwed up his courage, as I was hoping he would NOT be able to do, and asked me to the Prom. To my everlasting shame, I told him I had already been asked by someone else. I had not, and I lied to him so I could hold out for a "better" offer. I think he knew, but we never talked about it. A little over a year later, when he was a freshman at Princeton and I was a HS senior in Carlisle PA, he invited me for a football weekend. I accepted, of course, but mostly because I wanted to go to PRINCETON, not to spend time with Jeff. He put me up at the Princeton Inn - at no small cost, I'm sure. He and Pitts had a room on the ground floor in their dorm, and many people stopped by on Saturday before the game, including MHS people from up and down the East Coast. The only person who would have been less likely to endure a football game for me is Flip (hates sports except cricket), but Jeff went - even bought me a mum corsage for the game. That night we went to see "Hedda Gabler" at a local theater, after a really nice dinner.

Was I grateful or appreciative? No. I was a petulant little witch with a capital B. I'm sure Jeff was more than happy to put me on the train back to Harrisburg. He finally got the message ... and I didn't hear from him for years. Later, even I couldn't believe how abominably I behaved towards such a sweet boy who's only problems were that (a) he liked me and (b) he wasn't "cool" enough.

We finally talked about that disastrous weekend during a reunion get-together in the '80s or '90s, and he was gracious in accepting my apologies. But I've always felt like a heel.

Jeff was a kind, cantankerous, funny, wise, thoughtful, acerbic, and absolute one-of-a-kind guy. Perhaps the family of his own that he never had let him bring us all around him into the Association he groomed and nurtured. WE were his family, and he was part of ours. Like Janice, I've missed him since this time last year, and now that there is no hope of seeing him behind those sign-in tables at a reunion again, a big piece of what has always been part of MHS is truly gone.

I hope you are at peace Jeff - you deserve it. And thank you for all you did for us.



More to follow...



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