My Friend of 45 Years

Few life occurrences have given me more pleasure than my re-connection with my friends Jeff and Margo beginning in 2010.  Jeff and I met in 1971.  I was attending a small non-denominational church in Elkville, Illinois and Jeff began attending church along with many of his fellow hippies.

I have always liked hippies,…and I think Jeff and many other Commune dwellers who lived along the Royalton Blacktop, who were fascinating people, opened a whole new world to me,…are the reason why.

I stayed at the Commune on more than one occasion and experienced things that I had never thought of before, such as Gefilte Fish and Matzo.  Many of my hippie friends were Jewish.  I also felt such a sweetness and love and acceptance from the Commune members.  Many of these wonderful people became Jews for Jesus.

During these young days many of my new friends stood out to me; such as Helene, Michael Toppel, Michael Black, and my friend of 45 years…Jeff Lestz.

One Sunday morning after staying over at the Commune I asked where I might take a shower?  Michael Toppel and Jeff Lestz took me to the back yard to what I can only describe as a unique human cleansing device.  The shower had three sides with the front or entrance completely open to the world.  The water came from a tub that had been strategically placed on top to the shower with garden hose protruding through the roof and an on and off knob suitable for a garden hose within arms reach the shower participant.

Michael instructed me to turn the water on…cold…and get wet…then turn it off…soap up…and then turn it back on for the rinse cycle…as there was not enough water to keep the flow coming throughout the process.

When I enquired as to the totally open entrance…Jeff and Michael remarked that it was not a problem while the adjacent corn field was high with corn but that there was some privacy issues after harvest.

Jeff was someone that I felt an immediate connection with.  His desire to learn and improve was Herculean!

For the past three weeks my family and I have been traveling with our dear friends Margo and Jeff.  Toward the end of our Holiday Jeff had invited me to attend a business meeting with him in Leeds, England that was entitled…An Evening with Jeff Lestz.

I told my lifelong friend that I would be happy to do so and that I would set in the back.  He responded that he not only would like for me to attend the meeting but to say a few words regarding the beginnings or our friendship.  I was honored…and could not resist the opportunity!

Jeff is the Co-CEO of an extremely successful company called Genistar that is based in the United Kingdom.

The energy and excitement and anticipation in the room in Leeds was palpable.  People were eager to hear from my friend regarding the financial opportunity that he was offering…and about Jeff Lestz the person.

I looked around the room of fifty to seventy-five people and saw the most lovely mixture of races and cultures.

Horatio Alger in the latter part of the nineteenth century wrote very popular books that were categorized as Rags to Riches stories of young men who came literally from poverty to wealth.  I cannot describe to you what a thrill it is to have as my life long friend a true Rags to Riches story!

The secret to my friends success is simple…he has always had a heart to help others…and thus the genuineness of his heart touches those in need.

I must bestow my favorite quote on to my friend Jeff, as it describes his dedication to others who are less fortunate… perfectly: “We are all in the same boat in a stormy sea, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty.”  G. K. Chesterton







5 responses

  1. There’s nothing quite like old friends. Wonderful homage.

    1. Thank you so much! 😃

  2. Jay, Great blog !
    We love you and your family and so good to spend some time with lifelong friends !

    Looking back on our past certainly reminds me of both of our ‘humble beginnings’ .
    You were always one of my best friends and your kind & gentle spirit was a key to your tremendous personal success.
    I am so proud of you , Mary Jane & your two sons !

    In your 30+ years at SIU you sowed into many people’s lives and created leaders .
    Proud to call you my friend & look forward to our next adventure traveling somewhere in the world .


    PS I sure am glad I don’t have to take the showers outside anymore on the hippie commune .

    1. Thank you my old friend! It was great being with you and Margo! We eagerly anticipate future adventures together…and yes inside showers are nice. Mary Jane and my love to you and Margo!

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