March 22, 2015


Jeffrey Patrick Meyer was born on February 24, 1946 in Morristown, New Jersey, and he passed away on March 8, 2015 here in his home. The family moved to California in 1947, so Jeff was basically a resident of Van Nuys all his life. It is believed that the first word Jeff ever spoke was “surfboard.” But it may have been “Snickers.”

Jeff attended St Elisabeth Elementary School, blocks from here, and Notre Dame High School, where he was a star athlete, graduating in 1964. He met his wife Penny during that time, I believe at Bob’s Big Boy on Van Nuys Blvd. They married, moved to Hawaii, and by 1968, their son Patrick was born. Jeff graduated from the University of Hawaii with a degree in Education, specializing, of course, in the field of Recreation, and so the Meyer family moved back to Van Nuys, where they bought this house. Their daughter Kelly was born in 1970, completing the Jeff  and Penny Meyer household.

From the beginning of their return to the Valley, Jeff and Penny immersed themselves in their neighborhood. This house was community central, where activities abounded. They had meetings, parties, water balloon fights, a team that put up flags on Van Nuys Blvd for celebrations,  and 4th of July celebrations in this circle, complete with fire engines. 

  Jeff was a miller/baker employed by Orowheat Bakery in North Hollywood for over 20 years and ended up as plant superintendent. He told me, “When most people make bread, they use spoons to measure. Here, we use snow shovels.”  Can I have a show of hands of former Orowheat employees? The flour mill moved to Montebello in the 80’s. Jeff put up with the ride for a while, and then he moved on to Yum Yum Donuts, where he discovered, bought and sold those Frostee ice cream machines. You haven’t lived until you’ve had a real margarita or pina colada out of a Frostee machine. Later, Jeff went to work in Oxnard for YH, a vitamin company that manufactures Barley Green, an innovator of Green Food throughout the world.

While at YH in Oxnard, Jeff started buying and selling mobile homes. I could do an hour just on that. I was his partner. We did total restorations on trailers. His nickname during our mobile home days?: "Cross thread."

Throughout his life, Jeff was known as a fun guy and a party planner, although not a very good one. He told me his ideas and I wrote them down. Whatever Jeff cooked up, his friends followed, and so we had the Annual North Softball Classic, superstars, softball leagues, camp outs, 10k runs, and of course the infamous annual 25 mile Zuma to Santa Monica walk.  

Jeff carried the torch down Van Nuys Blvd on a bicycle at the beginning of the 1984 Olympics. Well, it wasn’t actually the Olympic torch. It was a plastic planter with a piece of wood dowel through it, wrapped in aluminum foil and topped off with a kerosene soaked rag. But it sure fooled a lot of people lined up on the Blvd waiting to see the real torch. We just rode onto the street for 5 blocks and the crowd went crazy. He was so stoked, he followed the torch relay the next day into Burbank with his dog hanging out of one car window and waving the fake torch out the other.

  From our early youth, my Dad took us to the beach. Santa Monica Pier. Bay St., Muscle Beach. Body surfing. At about 13, we learned to surf at Malibu, where Jeff shared the waves, and sometimes took off in front of, the likes of Mickey Dora, Mike Doyle, and Johnny Fain. (Legend has it that after colliding with Jeff in the water, Dora (some say it was came up and took a swing at him. Jeff ducked and then knocked Dora cold with one punch. Legend or not, I saw the whole thing. As they were dragging Dora out of the water, Jeff paddled back into the lineup. I asked him, “What was that all about?” He shrugged and said, “I have no idea.”)

We also have a request from some of the ornery Caribou Club members in the back who feel that “Memorial Celebration” is too politically correct for Jeff, so from now on we’re calling it a wake

The photos on his memorial card: He loved the Annual Do Dah costume surf celebration at Sunset Beach. That’s where the photo in the nun’s costume on his memorial card came from. 

Jeff loved surfing and hanging out in Mexico. 100 miles south of Ensenada, near the town of Camalu, is a village called San Jacinto, which has a surf spot called Shipwrecks. We camped there for years.  We started out with a boogie board on our knees as our dining table. Then Patrick and a bunch of friends who are here today built a little 2 story house on the beach. And that’s where the large photo on your card came from.


Spirituality?  John, Jeff and I were sitting in a hotel room  during Jeff’s clinical trial and I was having a beer and complaining about something regarding religion. Jeff said, “You get a disease like this, you find religion.” Jeff received the last rights of the church in his home the day he passed away.

Most of Jeff's projects were community oriented or pointless, but always good natured and non political. Jeff didn’t have a mean bone in his body, but he was a joker, always the first in with costumes and fun. That’s one of the reasons Jeff loved Shipwrecks so much, surfing in the day and sitting around a campfire at night, singing songs and telling jokes. By the way, I still haven’t heard the punch line of Rudy’s monkey joke.

As most people know, Jeff was an incurable thrift store shopper and Craigslist buyer and seller. One time he found a fire truck for sale out in Hemet. I asked, “What do you want with a fire truck?” He said, “We’ll give it to the people in Camalu. They gotta need a fire truck. An it’s really cheap.” I think he pictured himself riding around Mexico in it. Why?  Fun. We had many projects to work on at the Shipwrecks: generators, solar power, propane refrigerator. So we often had to drive to the hardware store or swap meet in Camalu. But Jeff wouldn’t come back to the house until we played a couple of games of 8 ball at the local run down pool hall. He didn’t know much Spanish, but it didn’t matter. It was fun. 

Jeff and I shared an old corduroy Santa Claus suit. We decided one day in the fall as we were enjoying a brew, that they didn’t wear corduroy at the North Pole. So we went to a fabric store, bought a pattern and some bolts of deep red velvet and whatever that white fluffy stuff is, and Jeff proceeded to sit down at a sewing machine and put together this incredible Santa Suit that looked like the one in the Coca Cola ads on the back of magazines. Many kids through the years, some not so fragrant, sat on Jeff’s lap. Why did he do it. It was fun. What a goofball.

Another time down at Shipwrecks, Jeff decided to paint a large Tecate logo on the wall outside the house. We went to the hardware store, picked up paint and brushes. He had no experience painting a sign, but by the time Jeff and John put it together, it looked like the real deal. As proof of that, as we were sitting watching the sunset that evening, a carload of people pulled up and asked if this place was a cantina.

The great Canadian writer Farley Mowat wrote a book called “Never Cry Wolf” about his experience of living with wolves in the wild for 2 years. Canadian farmers had claimed that wolves should be eradicated because they ate livestock. Mowat discovered that not to be true. His final analysis in the book?: "Wolves survive on slow caribou." We thought that was a great concept to build on an “old farts club,” so we started the Caribou Club. And when you think about it, this is more philosophical than a bunch of old surfers camping out at the beach. Jeff use to like to say, “I don’t have to be fastest. I just have to be faster than you. Now I hate to break it to all of you: We’re all in the Caribou Club.

  While we were attending college in Hawaii, we needed money, of course. So Jeff decided to put an ad in the Honolulu Advertiser that read: “Students will paint houses. Free estimates.” Thus, Ace Painters was born. Over time we wore out many brushes, rollers, airless guns and intentional or not, painted many houses and cars.

For years, especially in summer when John and I were off from school, our schedule was to paint houses by day and go to Dodger games by night. Can I have a show of hands of the Dodger season ticket holders who provided Ace Painters with tickets? Will anyone who ever worked for Ace Painters please stand up.

       From the time he was 4, except for his few years at the University of Hawaii, Jeff lived within 2 miles of this very spot. He played sports at Vanowen Park, one block from here. Van Nuys in the 50’s and 60’s was the ultimate suburban dream. Jeff would always say, “If we lived in NJ we’d be playing with our cousins. Instead were meeting and playing with friends. In the 50’s because of job opportunities in aerospace and the movie business, families left the east coast for California and its Rose Parade weather. The Atkinson’s from Boston, the Kuhner's from Chicago, the Ebert's from South America, the Brewster's and Campbell's from the heartland, shared a common bond: a new adventure with new people. Jeff shared in that spirit and spread his good nature and sense of fun throughout Southern California. So we’ll say aloha to him today, but I know that Jeff would want all of you here to share a story about him with someone, and honor Jeff's memory by doing something for someone else. They say you're not really gone until the last person mentions your name. Keep up the Jeff stories and tell some today.  

We would like to thank

Dr. O'Reardon and the entire staff at e-study in Loma Vista,

who treated Jeff like a king during his

year and a half long clinical trial for his illness.

Below, here's Jeff celebrating Christmas with his favorite nurse, Elena.

To return to Jeff's page click below

Jeff Meyer Memorial Page