Jeff ZaslowYou know that teeny pang—a bit of envy, resentment maybe, self-doubt–you get when a friend makes good? Especially when you’re feeling a little low yourself?

I know I do. When my own life’s road has been bumpy—and I’m not proud of this—I’ve too often confronted those ugly emotions bubbling up from a self I don’t want to be.

Except when it comes to Jeff Zaslow.

Jeff Zaslow, who, until yesterday, caught that “lightening in a bottle” brand of exceptional success not once but many times, was a man I could only, purely, always, be happy for. Whatever joys he experienced—I wished him only more.

I imagine that’s because…he was Jeff Zaslow. Someone who, no matter what he got, always gave a little more.

Jeff Zaslow.

I met Jeff when we were in our mid-twenties, in Chicago. We’ve been friends almost thirty years, sometimes more in touch, sometimes less. No matter how long it had been since we last talked, I knew I could pick up the phone any time and hear that inimitable, welcoming, grinning voice, saying “Jooooody” and in an instant he made me feel like the most important person in the world.

Always curious. Always funny. Always humble. Always caring. Incredibly generous.

I moved to New York, then Denver and he eventually to Detroit; I never got to know Sherry or their girls; only met them through Jeff’s emailed pictures and updates.

But I can’t imagine the depth of their loss. Losing Jeff devastates me as “chat a few times a year” friend. Losing his daily grounding love and support (and humor) will be an awful blow, and I am so very sorry for them, and his parents and in-laws and siblings.

When a loved one dies, it can help to hear that others loved him and will miss him.  To know he was seen. At least in this respect, for Jeff’s family and close friends, there will be no end to hearing the love.

Jeff grabs your heart, jumps in and never leaves. I hope his family can find solace in knowing he lives forever in so many hearts both known to them and not. I hope his written legacy helps (thank God for his last book, inspired by and written for his girls!).

It helps me to know he truly–as he aspired to do–lived his life. His was not a life filled with many regrets for words unspoken or love unshared.

So, as Jeff was one of the most present people I’ve ever met, I’m committed to trying to fill the hole his absence leaves by remembering, in dark times, to perhaps be more like him.

Not perfect. But so very real, and so invested in other people’s happiness.

Ha’makom yinachem etchem be’soch shar avehei Tzion ve’Yerushalim.

Lovely tribute to Jeff here:





  1. Jody, great wonderful heartfelt post. Role Mommy’s Beth Felfman also has a nice blog post on
    all this too. My own take, somewhat unorthodox but also compassionate and healing the worldish,
    is at my blog “say it in 17 words” — i wonder why with all Jeff’s PR clout, he could have a front page interview for magic room in NYT and do GMA and Today show on TV and sell 1 million books that way, why on Earth did he have to travel to a remote place in midwinter to sign 40 books for fans? Because he is that kind of guy, yes. And doing someone a favor and being a friend. But at the same time, he is dead now. Where are our priorities? Yes, saying “Honey I love you” is important for husbands wives and father daughters, very important, but isn;t staying home and being with them also important. There is an sad tragic unspoken story here, and it needs to be told. but later, after the mourning period is over. REST IN PEACE, good man Jeff! (PS- he was a good friend of mine, too, always help with advice and contacts, journo a journo. THAT is why i mourn his senseless loss so much!]

    • Thanks for your comments, Dan.  I don’t agree with your take on the book signing, though. A million tiny events led to the one accident, the trip didn’t cause it. He went to the signing because he wanted to, and probably had a terrific evening.  He was a hands-on dad who had his priorities very straight. There’s no unspoken story; it was just an awful, horrible, unpredictable accident.

      • Yeh, the more I think about it, Jody, the more I think I am wrong on this. For sure, nobody caused the accident to happen, life is for all of us 101 million accidents waiting to happen at any given time, and yes, Jeff wanted to drive up to Petosky, he was under nobody’s orders, not Penguin PR people, not anybody, he just wanted to do the trip, and the weather was fine when he set out and even when he got there. The weather only turned bad the next morning. He DID have his priorities very straight, and there is NO unspoken story. But still, I am NOT the only one asking this question: why did a million copy selling author have to do a minor book signing on a weeknight far from home. I will bet that if Jeff could do it all over again, in  a back to the future scenario, he would have said “let me do this in the summer time or spirng” and his fans and the book shop owner would have understood i am sure. Maybe there is a lesson here for those of us still among the living.? That’s my agenda.

  2. and yes — ”Ha’makom yinachem etchem be’soch shar avehei Tzion ve’Yerushalim.” – sadly, on another blog, this one in Chicago area, White Supremacist Neo nazi blog the the title was “Zaslow’s Last Lecture” and the the AP news story was follwed by four hateful antisemitiic and anti-liberal and anti-media and anti-Obama comments, saying they were GLAD JZ had died…..what is wrong with the USA, Jody? to fan such hatred? I left USA in 1991 by the way, never to return, for just those reasons…..SIGH


    Beth Feldman on WHEN GIFTED WRITERS ARE TAKEN AWAY FROM US, re JZ…..good post!

  4. Good news out of bad news: College scholarship renamed to honor Jeffrey Zaslow
    A scholarship awarded annually to a college newspaper columnist by theNational Society of Newspaper Columnists will be renamed to honorJeffrey Zaslow, the West-Bloomfield based author and Wall StreetJournal columnist who died in a northern Michigan car crash lastFriday.
    The Jeff Zaslow College Columnist Award will be granted annually tothree students who write a general interest, editorial page or Op-Edcolumn for college or university undergraduate newspapers. First prizeis $1,000. Second prize is $500 and third prize is $250.
    more information is available at

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