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Jack Vorfeld: February 29, 1912-October 19, 2004

Jack Vorfeld died October 19, 2004. I only knew Jack for one-third of his lifetime and about half of mine. He was born in 1912, and we met in 1971. He came into my life, opened his arms and heart to me, and set the stage for a new life for both of us. This document will evolve as my memories-and those of family and friends-surface. . . . Judy Vorfeld

Computers. Jack had a love/hate relationship with computers. He loved that I could make a living with them, but he didn't understand them, and he was a bit intimidated by them. The Internet fascinated him. No sooner would he ask me a question than I'd dash into my office and google that question. He loved that it gave answers, but wished that it didn't take quite so much of my time. Yet he was thrilled when people who'd been to my website would email questions about plantation days or Oahu Sugar Company.

Cribbage. Jack was a cribbage addict. He loved playing, and part of it was the lighthearted banter that went with it. Some of his favorite players were Don Gabe and David Crook. Jack and Don had a standing engagement every week. David , my brother, played at least one game every time he came over.

Driving. Most of the time that I knew Jack, he was what I called a plantation driver. Just as he'd done at Oahu Sugar, he did wherever he went. One eye on the road, and one eye on the landscape. He wanted to know if there were any changes since the last time. He was not gifted at backing up a vehicle. This led to some interesting encounters: none too serious. He loved to drive, and would head for Home Depot or Ace Hardware at the drop of a washer, nut, or bolt. He decided to stop driving when he was ninety.

Encouragement. He believed in people . . . that we were special people with abilities yet untapped. Whenever I wanted to try something different-painting, computers, photography, etc.-he was my biggest booster.

Energy. Jack almost vibrated with stamina throughout most of his life. He loved being busy. Being useful. He was a fabulous cook, and this never ceased to amaze me. During the years I was employed, I woke up every morning to fresh coffee and a kiss, and when I came home, he'd have dinner ready. Plus, he did most of the shopping. He woke up around 5 a.m. each day and was yawning by 8 p.m. He loved having a nap. But when he was awake: watch out! What a dynamo.

Family. There is no way to adequately describe his devotion and commitment to family. He had numerous happy memories from years gone by, but he enjoyed building his own memories as well. Being around family was simply heaven on earth to Jack Vorfeld.

Fishing. One of the first things we did once we settled in at Manager's Drive was to go shore fishing for papio. (Ulua, also known as Pompano or, when under 12 pounds, as Papio or jackfish.) Not only did Jack love to go fishing, but he knew how to cook seafood of all kinds. In the 1980s he and Chuck Moran bought a small motorboat and trailer and drove to as many lakes as they could to go camping and fishing. They continued this until Chuck's Muscular Dystrophy got so bad that he couldn't maneuver well enough to go on such trips. Probably time anyway, since Jack loved fishing but he didn't think much of camping. He love a nice, firm mattress underneath his tired body!

Flowers. Jack loved to plant flowering plants for me. One of the first things he did after we were married was to plant some roses near the house. One day I drove up to the house after an excursion to town to see some bright roses blooming. How could this be? He'd just planted them days before. I should have known. He'd bought some artificial rosebuds to see if I'd notice. He enjoyed doing things to please me.

In the months following our marriage, he planted white ginger around the back of the house, and also put in a huge area of anthuriums under some trees. Such activities gave him joy.

Food. I came home to find him preparing sumptuous dinners during those years, and for quite a few years after. He always apologized if we had leftovers. Hah! I was (and still am) the Leftover Queen. Jack loved making popovers, Eggs Benedict, sauces, gravies, anything Teriyaki, and he enjoyed experimenting. Most of them worked, and when they didn't, I never complained. No one ever had it so good!

Handyman work. Jack loved to fix anything that was broken, and he usually did. Through the years there were lots of cuts, scrapes and bruises-including losing the tip of a finger-and plenty of grime and grease, but he was at his happiest when he was fixing things. I often wondered if he didn't pray for some things (small, of course: like toilet flushing mechanisms, garbage disposals, or faucets) to be broken just so he could come to the rescue. In his later years, his body wouldn't let him do much handyman work, and it was a source of powerful frustration. Like most others whose bodies are shutting down, he fought these handicaps every step of the way.

During the last year of his life, I walked into the kitchen to find him on the floor, working under the sink. When it came time to get up, I had to call on all my strength, because he couldn't get up on his own. Sometimes he seemed courageous, and sometimes he seemed stubborn. There's a fine line. Most of us, if we live that long, will face such situations.

Ice cream and apple pie. His favorites. I became pretty good at baking apple pies, and it was always served with vanilla ice cream.

Jumpsuits. Once we'd moved to Arizona and become established, it appeared that Jack would be doing a lot of handyman work for others. This meant a new dress code. He would no longer be able to wear slacks and a shirt, because when he bent over or was squatting down working under a sink, etc., the shirt bottom and slacks top parted ways. His shirt bottoms moved north. His pants waistbands moved south. Plus, his pants rarely stayed up. He began using suspenders in his later years. What to do?

We saw other guys in the area wearing jumpsuits, and that seemed to be the solution. We invested heavily in jumpsuits through the years. They were kind of a trademark for him. And we had three levels: grungy (old), so-so (not so new), and dress (new). He'd start out wearing a new one when we went out. Then we'd come home and he'd have some chore in the workshop and get some oil or grease on it. Or paint. If it didn't happen at first, it always happened.

Jack was always trying to get me to say it was okay to wear a so-so jumpsuit to meet people for lunch, for example. He couldn't see all the grease and grime: he saw everything from the top. We had lots of fun with this.

Robin Hastings and Barb Stallings, who concocted the items for Jack's memorial service, made sure they had one of his oldest, grungiest jumpsuits for the table at the front of the sanctuary. It was so fitting!

Leap Year. Jack was born February 29, 1912, and anyone who was around him for long knew this. He loved to talk about it. In his later years, when there was less to talk about, he really loved talking about how old he was. He'd follow that by saying that he'd married an older woman. Everyone was supposed to laugh, and they did.

Love. Jack had a natural affinity for loving. It was wonderful that he was so romantic, but his love went far beyond our relationship. Totally devoted to our family, he never said anything negative about anyone. It wasn't part of his nature to do so. He loved the way most people breathe. Constantly. Consistently. Completely.

Pancakes. How he loved making and serving pancakes. If we had grandchildren visiting, he insisted on having pancakes. And did this man know how to make delicious pancakes? Mmmmm.

Questions. He was a walking question mark. He was forever asking me rhetorical questions. About highway projects. The weather. Vehicles. TV programs. Technology. Once I discovered the Internet, I could find answers to many of his questions, and he loved that. Especially if the explanations came with diagrams.

Showers. I doubt if there were many people as clean as Jack Vorfeld. Taking a shower was not taking a shower where Jack was concerned. It was an EVENT. While he was ensuring that everything was clean, water drops flew through the air around the shower. He always came out breathing hard and feeling absolutely wonderful. And his towel was always drenched. A total experience.

Spirituality. Jack spent much of his life wondering about God. If He existed. And if He existed, Jack just couldn't figure Him out. When bad things happened to good people, Jack had questions: good questions. He was a seeker and a lover, but he was also somewhat pragmatic.

When we lived in Glendale, Arizona, we began attending church. One day, he was sitting by himself reading, and he said he had an inner insight. It was profound, but difficult to explain. He knew that God was God, and that He'd sent His Son, Jesus to help people find their way to the Father. This understanding brought tears to Jack's eyes, and relief to his mind and heart. He dug into spiritual activities and one day decided he wanted to be baptized. This took place at Valley Cathedral in Phoenix. Jack had a deep personal relationship with his heavenly father. Even so, he said he had a few questions he'd ask when he got to heaven. That was so Jack.

Words and Phrases. There were certain words and phrases that were important to Jack, but there's no doubt in my mind that the two most precious words on God's green Earth were "Hi, Grandpa!"

Jack Vorfeld was a total experience. He had presence. His sweet smile and disposition fronted a very dynamic personality. He was a thinker, a lover, and a family man to the core. It broke his heart to have to say goodbye to his family and friends, and it broke our hearts as well. He and I talked about this within a couple of days of his diagnosis, and he said, "Well, they have to understand that I'm no spring chicken." The space he took up on Earth can never be filled. But all of us are inspired to move forward and be all that Jack knew we could be. Which is: just be ourselves!

There's an almost endless list of people who loved this remarkable man. I thought I would list family members:

  • Alexander Vorfeld
  • Blake and Patty Pierson and family
  • Bob and Carolyn Downing and family
  • Bob and Laurie Schissler and family
  • Bob Vorfeld
  • Brittany Kukuruda
  • Cameron Kurosu
  • Charlotte Fleener
  • Dana Kukuruda
  • David Crook
  • David and Joann Coon and family
  • Don and Alva McDiarmid and family
  • Doug, Madeline, and Natalie Luce
  • Emma Vorfeld
  • Ernest and Marlyn Sussman
  • Esther Green
  • Ethel Crook
  • Jack and LaRae Mullin and family
  • James Finn
  • Jan Pierson and family
  • Jan Vorfeld
  • Janet Crook
  • Jason Green and children
  • Jeff Vorfeld
  • Jen Taddei and children
  • Jim and Carol Janssen
  • Jim Finn
  • Jody Green
  • Jody Patrizio
  • Jody Vorfeld
  • John and Cheryl Burton and family
  • John Fleener and family
  • John Vorfeld
  • Judi Downing
  • Judy Vorfeld
  • July Green
  • Kate Finn
  • Kerrie Simpson
  • Kirsten Kurosu
  • Marc Downing
  • Marla Clites
  • Martha Vorfeld
  • Mary Anne Vorfeld
  • Michael Fleener and family
  • Michelle Gardiner and family
  • Nicolas Wainrib
  • Pat Clark and family
  • Patti Vorfeld
  • Paul and Jennifer Mabey and family
  • Peter Vorfeld
  • Robby and Rene Vorfeld and children
  • Roger Patrizio
  • Ron Hodgson
  • Ron Simpson
  • Shannon Patrizio
  • Skip and Julie Voetberg and family
  • Ted Vorfeld
  • Vicky Kukuruda
  • Walter and Ellen Vorfeld and children
  • Wilma Vorfeld

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Copyright Judy Vorfeld.
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