Silent Tree Music
TRIBUTE TO A CLOSE FRIEND
( 1944-2002 )
Copyright © 2002 - MickTerry.com
Jeff Sturman started working two days before I did at a
business-to-business marketing company in Calabasas, CA.
Soon after, we found ourselves working on the same projects
together. His statistics were always better than mine.
& for a company that cared exclusively about statistics,
that was saying a lot.
He came from a highly successful sales background, having
been regional manager for a very large medical supply firm.
When that company merged with an even larger one,
his position was eliminated & he felt a strong sense of betrayal.
It seems to me that he never fully recovered from that devasting blow.
Although usually cheerful & extremely funny & witty,
he did not seem to be interested in re-attaining the levels
of success that he had previously achieved.
It seems that he had dropped out of "The Race",
& he did not seem to have much in the way of regrets.
There were many races in Jeff's life & he won most of them.
At one time, he & his sons, Michael & John (1987), along with
their mother, Jackie, were one of the winningest families
in their class of sailboats.
Jeff served as Staff Commodore of Marina del Rey's
South Bay Yacht Racing Club in 1985.
That competitive edge was taken by Michael up to Olympic
level sailing & by John into bicycling.
Both sons have also reached levels of success in the hi-tech
world. Jeff was deservedly very proud of both of them.
Non-competitively, Jeff would daily row his dory for miles,
reveling in the exercise & almost meditative solitude.
For fourteen years, Jeff had been in relationship with Sara
sharing an extremely close life-partnership that included
being best friends as well as lovers.
She was hardest hit by his passing & deeply misses him.
Of all the people in the world, Jeff had read more of the lyrics
that I have written than anyone else.
Although not hyper-critical, he would give some very astute
observations & I highly valued his opinions & critiques
of my lyrics & music.
Four songs were written with Jeff Sturman in mind:
You've Got a Lot of Balls
Life's Too Short
Get in Line
Bottoms Up, Light 'Em Up (last verse)
Two other songs used his name as one of the characters :
New Neighbor from Atascadero
One Good Thing about Alzheimer's
His personal choice in music was very eclectic.
Favoring primarily old school jazz, he surprised me quite often
by enjoying music that did not fit my pictures of his tastes.
His love of music, at one point, included playing drums in bands.
He liked things with an edge, with a rawness that could be easily
lost in a recording, & he absolutely deplored anything that he
thought was plastic, surface, overtly commercial or packaged.
Just mention certain super-successful pop groups (e.g., The
Eagles) & you could watch the nausea take over his expression.
Although he loved The Lovin' Spoonful's Summer in the City,
he detested the rest of their output.
Jeff was a highly intelligent & articulate man,
one of the three most intelligent people I have ever met.
He loved learning about very diverse topics via reading & PBS.
He loved to videotape favorite documentaries & classic films
& had hand-catalogued & indexed his vast collection.
Among his favorite topics of research were sailing,
the Civil War, airplanes & art.
His highly detailed collection of model planes survived the
first & most powerful waves of the Northridge Quake of 1994,
only to be crushed under a falling bookcase by an aftershock.
When we first met, Jeff was a relative newcomer to the world of art.
But within a very brief period, he had developed a sense of style
that most people really appreciated & found amazing for the
short time that he had been drawing or painting.
Most people except for himself, of course.
Jeff never understood what people saw in his artwork.
To him, his drawings & paintings were just sophomoric
experiments, never technically artistically perfect enough
even to be considered art.
Of the three pieces that Jeff gave me, all considered
throwaways by him, my favorite is that of the sloop.
That it embodied the feel that I wanted to project for my
instrumental CD, Waves to the Shore, was secondary
to the fact that I wanted to dedicate the album to his life
& to the talent of this man I was privileged to have
as one of my dearest friends for all too short a time.
Jeff Sturman was killed by cigarettes on November 9, 2002.
He was the first to admit that he was addicted to them,
but he refused to smoke inside his own home.
Instead, he would smoke in the garden patio outside his door,
enjoying the blue jays that would join him there.
He had broken away from cigarettes for several years,
only to become re-addicted after his company was down-sized.
His doctor had sent him home just three weeks before his death,
diagnosing his chest pain as heartburn, prescribing Tums.
A week later, Jeff was hit by a debilitating stroke,
the hospital also discovering heart disease, kidney failure,
massive lung cancer.
Every other day for the next two weeks at the hospice,
I would read to him from his favorite books.
Not a pretty death.
May others benefit from his passing,
not only in the enjoyment of his art,
but in finding a new reason & commitment to living
a healthy, productive & unpolluted life.
- Mick Terry
Copyright © 2002 MICK TERRY All rights reserved
[ Reprinted here by permission of the author. ]
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