Jeff came into our lives at a difficult time, just a couple years after our brother Dale had passed away in 1982.
It didn’t take long before Jeff would become like a brother to me, and a son to our parents.
At that time, Jeff was writing for The Wall Street Journal, and already captivating his readers.
He once interviewed me for a front page story he was doing about the use of speaker phones, and he quoted my opinion that they were rude and pretentious.
Even Jeff didn’t anticipate the number of readers who then went to the trouble of looking up my office phone number, in Buffalo, NY, and called me, on a speaker phone of course, just to harass me.
It was soon after that time when Jeff won the Ann Landers job. I would frequently meet him at his office to go to lunch or for a beer after work, and I’d see all the mail he’d receive from readers; bushels and bushels of mail.
More amazing than the amount of mail he received-and it was a lot- was the amount of mail that he took the time to READ- and personally answer.
He could have just picked the letters he needed for his column, and ignore the rest, but he didn’t stop there.
His compassion and enormously genuine interest in people were truly his essence, and probably what I will most remember about him.
In his professional life, Jeff not only touched, but impacted many people. Words were his tools, but his heart was his toolbox.
For Sherry, it was Jeff’s intellect, his sense of humor, and his ability to make her laugh that probably attracted her from the start.
Jeff’s ability to interject just the right amount of humor into a serious moment would endear people to him.
Like at our wedding, when he gave his best man speech, he started out by telling everyone, on a serious note, how honored he was to be the best man, given my brother’s situation.
He went on to state, as I’d later learn to be his trademark, that… “of all the weddings he’d been to, this one was definitely …the most recent!”
Jeff’s biggest success in life had nothing to do with books or writing.
It was the priority and love of his family.
Sherry, Jordan, Alex and Eden came first, and he was always available to them with a lending ear and an open heart.
His closeness with his family, siblings, parents, nieces, nephews, in-laws and cousins, and his many long lasting friendships, are all testament to what meant the most to Jeff Zaslow.
I admire the respect and love he earned from all who were important in his life, and I can only hope that Jeff’s memory will guide us all toward recognizing what is truly important in our lives.