Our journey of joy with Jeff began when after moving from a row house in Philadelphia to the suburbs, and having saved enough for the down payment and the extras, my husband, Harry said we could add another child to our two wonderful and amazing boys. I had the feeling I’d been waiting for someone.
Jeff had beautiful blonde curls and at just a few months old he followed the beat of music with his tiny hands, and later danced to music to the delight of his brothers and family. He would delight his sister who came along unexpectedly 18 months later. Jeff was easy, laid back, and great fun with his wit, excitement and humor. It was the beginning of a family life of great love that would make us feel we were in a mini Camelot.
At age 6 Jeff dictated a play, “My Son the Sergeant” and his brothers did the writing for him. At 9 he had a poem printed in the local paper. At 12, he won a $500 prize in a poetry contest.
It was during that time that Jeff and I had a game going. We would agree on a topic and each of us would write about it in poem or story form. We would then compare our work to determine which was better. I was amazed that more often than not, Jeff’s work was better than mine, and writing was my chosen profession.
In elementary, junior high and high school, Jeff was a friend and a leader. He was a relaxed student, but followed the family dictum. Since all the children were academically capable, by paying attention and doing their work they could earn a B. Earning an A was up to them, but C’s were unacceptable.
He went off to college and again became a leader, a player and earned recognition as a writer. After college he toured the country before taking a job at the Orlando Sentinel. His excellent work and receiving awards and being nominated for a Pulitzer prize brought an offer from the Wall Street Journal in Chicago. He had met the wonderful and beautiful Sherry Margolis at a friend’s, Mitch Gerber’s wedding and began a life of love and devotion that came to include Jordan, Alex and Eden. The depth of his love and concern for them was unending. Jeff also brought to friends, neighbors and professional colleagues a joy, a talent and compassion that was enormous.
In my own autobiography when reflecting on my children, I wrote that my oldest son was the child of my mind, because of his brilliance, my second son was the child of my body, because in addition to being brilliant, he had a dynamism and vigor that made whatever he undertook possible. I said that my daughter was the child of my heart because she was filled with love for people and the need to give herself to them.
I said that Jeff was the child of my soul, because his feeling for life, for others, for caring and compassion, reached the depths of my own soul.
In the tragic circumstances we now face, my head is battered, my body is deflated, my heart is broken and my soul is bruised, seemingly beyond repair.
I want to share with you what I hope will help me, his father, his loving wife and children, siblings, nieces and nephews, friends, neighbors and colleagues.
We were all remarkably blessed to have had Jeff in our lives, not long enough, but we had him. He would want each of us to continue to make the best of ourselves and our lives. Jeff was a blessing, and to honor him we must be all that we can be, do all we can do, and contribute all that we can to one another and every where we can. May we all be blessed with remembering Jeff and appreciate that for too brief of time, he was part of the joy, humor, fun, compassion and love that are the essence of life, and of Jeffrey Zaslow.
Dear Mrs Zaslow,
I did not have the pleasure of meeting your son, but I’ve had the priviledge of knowing you. I am so sorry for your lose. It is interesting when I heard of your son’s passing, I shared with a friend my thoughts of you, which are almost verbatum what you wrote about Jeff. You were very kind to my teenage daughter during her high school years. You embraced, and affirmed her by casting her in your high school tv production. That investment of your time and caring is still producing fruit. She is now a published author of young adult novels,among other creative endeavors. Your son had the best for parents. Please take some comfort in knowing that. God bless you and your entire family.
Dear Naomi and Harry:
I have had the honor and pleasure of knowing your family since I was a little girl. Your home overflows with warmth, love and generosity. Even in this time of your bereavement, you have chosen to share your most intimate, moving and beautiful thoughts on this web page, in tribute to and in memory of Jeffrey.
My children, especially my girls, are students of Jewish mysticism. They say that each soul is upon earth for its appointed time – until it has achieved what it was meant to achieve. Jeffrey’s achievements are vast. He has touched so many lives, not only of his family and friends- but also as an author, of a vast reading audience. His legacy will live through his daughters and G-d willing, their children, and his works will continue to touch people’s lives in the future.
I pray that you, Harry, your children and grandchildren and Jeffrey’s wife and daughters, take comfort in each other. שלא תדעו עוד צער – May you know no further sorrow in your life.
I wish I could physically embrace you, but please believe me that I am embracing you in my heart.
With much love,
Sharon (Madres) Tzur
Ellie and I are privileged to have enjoyed the friendship of Naomi and Harry since the beginning of our marriages so we knew Jeff since his birth. We have been able to watch him develop and achieve national fame. He did it on his own. The American public just
took him into their hearts. Since his first book we have marveled about his talents and rooted for him to win the Ann Landers contest for a successor. Despite his accomplishments, whenever we were with him, he was always the same unspoiled Jeff we knew and loved.
What a shock to hear of his untimely death. He had so much more to give us. We had come to look forward to his new works coming along. It leaves such a void in our lives so that we will miss him always.
Mr. &. Mrs. Zaslow, I am a fellow Marple-Newtown graduate (class of ’72) and I was so sorry to hear about Jeff. Some fellow classmates and I went to see Jeff when he was visiting Marple Library back in October 2010 for a book signing. He had us laughing and crying…all at the same time. We each bought at least one book of his, and he signed (or should I say “personalized”) each one. I bought The Girls from Ames, and I will treasure that book for as long as I live. I recently bought The Magic Room, and can’t wait to read it. I was heartbroken when I read about Jeff. My thoughts immediately went to his wife, children, and you and Mr. Zaslow. Although his voice is silenced, his words will always be with us through his books. Your family has been in my thoughts and prayers almost non-stop since I heard the tragic news. God Bless You!
Mrs. Zaslow, I am so sorry on the loss of your son. I was so shocked when I read the news while reading Eric Zorn’s column yesterday. I remember reading Jeff’s column in the Sun-Times, All That Zazz. May you find the strength to go on and remember the happy times you and your family shared.