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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