He faced his illness with humor and grace every day. That's not to say he didn't get angry or frustrated. He was, after all, human. But the disease never broke his spirit.
Progressive MS steals your body from your control in tiny increments. Your hand doesn't quite work right. You slur a word or two. You stumble ever so slightly. Years later, that hand is locked and unusable. The voice no longer can be understood. You're confined to bed, turned by caregivers every two hours.
Jeff's short-term memory suffered in recent years. But I always knew he was "there" when I said some words that resonated from some event in our 53-year long friendship - and he would laugh.
He was, to me, perhaps the funniest and most creative person I ever knew. In those years before the Internet and texting and cell phones, we would play at my house or in the yard, and our imaginations would take us on wonderful journeys. We were great sports stars, famous actors, the leaders of a worldwide corporation, not to mention space explorers and cowboys and bon vivants.
In 1997, I did a story about Jeff and me. It aired on April 20th, the anniversary of the day Jeff and I were introduced. That is what I submit from the Vault today, with an addendum that shows a little more of the life of my friend - my brother - Jeff.
I will always cherish my friendship with Jeff and thank the Lord for the time we had together on this earth. I wish everyone could have such a friendship in their lives.
Our boyhood friend Rick Parrott told me he'd like to think Jeff is free from his crippled body and hiking through a lush, mountain meadow. That would be Heaven for Jeff, and I believe he's there.