James Jeffrey – In Memoriam

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Uncle Jim

On Friday, December 20th, my family held a funeral service for my uncle, Jim Jeffrey.  Uncle Jim died last Sunday of complications brought on by a host of ailments, primarily the after-effects of chemotherapy and the further onset of Alzheimer’s.  Uncle Jim was a unique individual, and the obituary (below) from the funeral home doesn’t due justice to a man who fully embraced the ideal of “following your heart.”
Uncle Jim was married to my dad’s older sister, Barbara.  Both were talented musicians who lived for many years in the heart of New York City.  Jim fluently spoke several foreign languages, was an accomplished gourmet chef, and a handy-man who could fix or rebuild just about anything – electrical appliances, car engines, refurbed houses.  On top of that, he was an opera singer!  
There is a lot about my Uncle Jim that I will never know, or certainly won’t remember, but one clear memory of Jim was his singing of Ave Maria at our wedding.  Beautiful does not even come close to describing Jim’s performance.  Singing at the weddings of nieces and nephews, accompanied, of course, by Aunt Barbara on the organ, became a family tradition that Jim seemed to relish.
I copied the funeral home’s brief obituary (below), along with an early picture of Jim.  That picture is the memory of the man I want to remember.  The man who truly followed his heart.

James  E.  Jeffrey

March 29, 1932 – December 15, 2013

James E. Jeffrey

JEFFREY, James, 81, of Tampa, Florida passed away Sunday, December 15, 2013. He was born in Savannah, GA and moved to Tampa in his teens. James was a graduate of Hillsborough High School, and he received a Bachelor’s degree in modern foreign languages from the University of Tampa.  James was a United States Navy Veteran during the Korean War, serving on the USS Randolph. He went to the University of Miami on a teaching assistance ship, then moved to New York City in 1971 where he became a professional singer. James sang at Radio City Musical Hall in the chorus, performed with other small opera companies, and he sang in the Metropolitan Opera Company chorus for 19 years. He is preceded in death by his three sisters. James is survived by his wife of 57 years, Barbara; sister-in-law, Leanna Bailey and her husband, Tom; brother-in-law, Ken Billett, Sr. and his wife Glenda; nephew, John Sanford and his wife, Valarie, and many other nieces and nephews. A memorial service will be held at 10:00 am on Friday, December 20th at Loyless Funeral Home. Interment will follow at the Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell, FL at 12:30 pm. The family will receive friends one hour prior to the service. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in James name to the Melech Hospice House.

1 Comment

  1. Ken Billett

    FYI, I had to clean up the funeral home's obit for this post. It just annoyed me. I didn't spend a lot of time on it, so I'm sure there are other things that are wrong. It's a bit disappointing in this day and age that someone can't take the time to correctly link independent clauses together, punctuate introductory phrases, and use adverbs in the right context. Oh, well. I'm not always a grammatically correct writer myself.