Monday, January 11, 2010

Polo playing Printer, April 26, 1948 - January 6, 2010

He was a kind gentleman with strong convictions. Here is my interpretation of the things that meant the most to him:
Life should be shared in a strong marital relationship based on trust and love.

Respect everyone for what they are and not how you think they should be.

Be responsible for yourself and never pass your obligations off onto others to assume.

There is no need to have the “latest and greatest” when functionality and usefulness is still present.

Petty jealousies serve no purpose. Find a way to be satisfied with yourself.

Provide opportunity for others to learn and appreciate the arts, literature, music, sports and travel.

Saving for the future is more important than satisfying frivolous whims today.

Avoid unnecessary confrontation by being patient and tolerant of others.

A strong work ethic is essential.

Good manners count and should never be compromised.

I wish I had written these words as they so well describe Jack. But I found them on his computer, a few days after he died. He wrote this in 2007 for his father and they will stay in my heart for him. Jack was, is, the constant that holds my heart steady.

We’ve lived in several beautiful places, which always seemed to be in need of a new barn. We joked our headstone should read: gone to build another barn. But it was his friends he treasured most, a circle he cultivated from all aspects of his life. Jack enjoyed a good story, best when it involved friends. He always considered how those he included in his circle might be helped, and most of you appreciated this, too; even if it did include a little practical joke.

Jack’s love and support surrounded me always, and still does.

Horses brought us together and a bet started us dating. Before my first polo tournament Jack said if I won, he’d buy dinner. Well, my team won. I’m sure he expected to just pay for my pizza when the whole group stopped after the game but I had to leave early. Later he did take me out to a nice restaurant. Since I cooked little then, it was a treat. A few weeks later, I made my first meal for him: a peanut butter & jelly sandwich and a small painting, all stuffed in a brown paper bag. He hung that painting, of a polo player, next to his desk and he happily ate everything I learned to cook, a willing guinea pig.

On a perfect fall day, October 4, 1987, he and I were married.

Jack was always looking for a better way to do things. I loved the enthusiasm and energy he brought to any endeavor that caught his interest. This showed in his love of the guitar or swooping across the ice in skates. From these early interests, he became an appreciator of music and proponent of getting things done.

Polo brought him some of his greatest joy, as he loved the game: playing, umpiring and very much teaching it, particularly his Hollywood Polo team. Almost everywhere we lived, Jack found or made opportunities to play. Sitting our horses, riding quietly together through the beautiful lands where we have lived, was our hallowed time.

Jack and I hosted six foreign exchange students, and found it a rare pleasure to be able to call them our daughters. They and their families continue to include us. It has been a wonderful to watch them grow as their lives evolve and to continue knowing them.

He started working in his grandfather’s Boston printing company when he was still in high school and was a third generation printer, a distinction he honored greatly. Jack was a diligent hard-worker, and expected a lot from those working with him – but never more than what he asked of himself. He was always looking for ways to improve productivity and as often and in many ways dearer to him, ways to help those with whom he worked.

Not only was printing in his genes but also sports, particularly the Red Sox. Jack would quip that the high holiday he liked best was Opening Day at Fenway. It is amazing how little of the movie Fever Pitch is not fiction. Of course seeing the Sox finally win the series was the best. He wore out the tee-shirts Coral sent him. And what about them Pats? And the Redskins, the Browns, the Shorebirds, the Aeros.....and, of course, those damn Yankees. When we met he claimed he was only a so-so sports fan.

Writing was a touchstone in his life. He was always a writer, and proud to be published in several printing and horse magazines. I so often saw how always willing he was, with his writing skills to help another, writing a resume, a manual, letter or prank.

Returning to Maryland not only put us back in touch with old friends, it sparked his creative heart. He began to shoot, found he really liked it, found a club that was on the way home and found he liked the folks there. And being Jack, as he has done with polo, he started rounding up friends to come play with him. He enjoyed competitive shotgun events. Jack thought a day spent on a sporting clays course or shooting trap & skeet with friends was a day well spent. Our horses, our dogs, were our good friends. Our cats, well, they believe we are useful.

He always joked with me before I would go foxhunting, “Got your saddle, got your horse, got your whippersnapper?” For some reason calling my hunt whip a whippersnapper cracked him up. This year was my turn, “Bwana! Got your camo, got you ammo, got your gun, got your book?” Yes his book, sometimes even the ipod. Early these fall mornings he sat in his blind watching the sun rise, the geese flying way over and got in some reading. In November he did get his first deer, a ten point buck.

The move to the Eastern Shore inspired him to return to woodworking, carving this time. “Litvak Woodworking” he called it, proudly bestowing his first pieces, matzo-ball spoons, on a few dear friends. I loved how anyone coming by was shown his latest work. And having his own workshop gave him such pleasure. Although our studios were not adjacent, seeing and talking about what each was working was a good way to spend time before dinner. Watching his face when his loon carving won a ribbon at the Ward Museum National Decoy show, really, and I mean really, was priceless.

In all this, it’s his friends, being with people he admired and respected, that he treasured. He was always grateful for their friendship, the knowledge they passed to him and ever ready to reciprocate. Jack was a kind, and truly generous soul, and he felt that an opportunity to help someone else, to pass on knowledge he had, a privilege.

Jack and I were always lucky with our neighbors. Wherever we have lived we had good neighbors. We were lucky that these folks were good people, and lucky to have the sense to introduce ourselves to them

He was born April 26, 1948 to Morris & Martha Epstein in Winchester, MA.

Jack is loved by his sister Coral, brother in law Roger and their children. Also by his brother-in-laws Brian, his wife Kathy, by Daniel and Charles, and all their children. And by Joel and our exchange daughters, Barbara, Maren, Ako, Delia, Anna & Krista.

And I loved him as far as the stars shine and always will.

He never moved the stars from their courses
But he loved a good woman
And he rode good horses


For those who could not make it, you were in my thoughts and heart.



For a few years I wrote a fox hunting report sent by email to all those members who could not ride that day. One-sided as it was only my view as a whipper-in, often not near the action, Jack would often read them over before I sent them. For those of you who could not be here this past Sunday, please accept my small report.

Gray skies and rain opened the day with severe thunderstorms promised for the afternoon, not the best weather for the day’s events. By mid-morning, though, the clouds had lifted enough so imminent rain was not an issue for a while. Indeed, it held true to Southern Maryland and under a cloud-scattered sky with thickening humid air, leavened by storm breezes, many people did come to commemorate Jack.

We all met by the hay-fields of Sunnybank, the neighboring farm to where Jack and I lived on the quiet banks of Flood Creek. Mid-morning, some met on the pier fly-fishing the serene waters, while others gathered spring flowers for the table.

Under a tent, banners fluttering above, we came together to speak our respect for this man, my Dear, with love, and compassion, and honor. Voices and guitar rose gently in song. Cowboy poetry filled our ears. We spoke of his generosity, his friendship, his kindness. Of his enthusiasm for whatever brought him joy, his dedication to any endeavor he found worthy and of the loyalty he gave to his friends. Remembering his humor, which he did shared with many, with words of love, tinged joyful and sad.

I did speak of this man I love, of the life we shared. I do not know, Jack, how you were there but for how my heart felt.

I did not see the deer cross the lawns as I spoke of your mornings out in our fields, nor the eagle soaring up by the sun. I did not see, only dimly heard as I spoke of your carving, the five honking geese that flew up from creek, where we had so loved watching them. “Jack’s flight!” whispered the Navy pilots among our friends. The white wings of a butterfly brushed by me seen only by our friends. I did see your friends; your colleagues, felt the love from all those distant and this brought a sense of serenity.

I did close the memorial with this prayer I found from the Evening Telegram,

St John’s New Foundland, dated May 27, 1887. It stated:

“At the grave of a noted Osage, the Indians looked to the sun and prayed:

Jesus give him a fine woman and many ponies;

Give him plenty of trinkets and a good gun;

Give him lots of fun and no bad recollections.

Jesus give him all the good in your country.”

My Dear, may God give you fine ponies

To ride the skies Charles Russell paints

Sweet rest, joy, lots of fun and no bad recollections.

Wait for your woman.

Death leaves a heartache no one can heal

Love leaves a memory no one can steal

If you wish to make a donation in Jack’s memory, please consider:

The Polo Training Foundation
70 Clinton St. Tully, NY 13159

Last Chance Corral
c/o Victoria Goss, Pres. 5350 US 33 South, Athens, OH 45701

Or directly to your local library


Jayne Stearns said...

Love you Jack. I still can't believe it. And love you Linda.

Anonymous said...

Jack was my friend. I loved him. He was true, honest, loyal, funny, and generous.
He left us too early.
He burned out brightly.

Joel said...

Jack was my best friend, He was my mentor,critic,a play-mate in polo, shooting and any gag that he need a wing man. Some times the gag was played on me. Either way it was a pleasure to see him enjoying himself.
His best joy was Linda, second his friends, third his new found hobby woodworking. For those of you who don't know "Litvak " is A Jewish person from Lithuania. Jack called his woodwork shop "Litvak Wood Working" You do the math. He was a Jewish Carpenter to me.I am missing him but, will be his wing man forever.

Cherwyn said...

Joel, you are wonderful. Thanks for sharing the background of "Litvak" - I hadn't known this! Thank you for loving Jack as you did, and Linda as you do, and by becoming "family" for us at this time. I'm so profoundly grateful for your comfort to Linda, and to all of us. You are a deep solace to the soul.

Anonymous said...

Dear Jack and Linda,
Right now things are pretty much against me – specially the Volcano in Island made it impossible - to join the memorial today.
Since it is not possible for me to be there, which makes me very sad, I at least want to write some words to Jack, Linda and family as well as all the friends:
Let me start at the beginning in 1995. When I was 16 years old I had the great opportunity to spend an exchange student year in America. It made me very proud to be the exchange student of Jack and Linda Epstein. They immediately gave me the feeling to be their own kid and shaped my development a whole lot. I got lots of rear cover from both of them and they helped me to discover the new world in America and feel comfortable there. The year in America hast past way to fast. And when I came back home to Germany some of my first words were: “I want to go back home to my parents in America – I prefer the living there.” Everything back in Germany was too small.
It took me a long time to get settled again in Germany. During this time and also during many difficult situations the learned things from Jack and Linda helped me to get a long and find a good solution for pretty much everything. Since 1996, when I came back to Germany, I had been in constant contact with Jack and Linda. One of the hugh highlights – next to my visits in America – was my Wedding, when Jack and Linda spent time with me and my family in Germany. Linda even became my witness to my marriage and Jack did make a speech being like my real dad. That made me very proud.
Looking back onto the years having past, I am very happy, that my family has spent last summer 3 weeks together with Jack and Linda. When I heard that Jack is sick, I was shocked as much as if my father would be sick. I hoped for him to recover fast and get healthy soon again. We had planned to visit Jack and Linda again in 2011, together with our triplets, which were born in November 2009.
The death has pulled Jack out of the life of many people, especially of Linda and their family. For me, Jack`s death makes me as sad, as if my father has passed away. Jack will always stay in my heart and all the things, which he has taught me, I remember good and think of how he would have solved problems. I have learned of Jack, to respect people and to take people, like they are – with all their good and bad sides.
To come to an end – I want to come back to my entrance sentence. It really makes me sad, not to be able to join Jack`s memorial.
And I want to say, that Jack: you will always have a very special place in my heart and thank you for everything you have done for me.
To Linda, I want to say again, even though the distance is that far, I still want to let you know, that I will be there anytime you need me and help with anything. Also I want to make sure, that you are alright anytime. I will want to give you as much support, as I could give you and I hope that you will soon feel a little better and start to enjoy life again – because I believe that is what Jack would have wanted, for sure.
To Jack once again – I will see you sometime again in your paradise.
Love Delia
(… and also very many hugs are send from the rest of my family: Daniel, Kimmi, Luca, Kay and Phil!)

alyceshane said...

I just bought a saddle from Sheila Everett, with the initials JJE stamped on it. I asked her who they belonged to, and she said the saddle once belonged to Jack. I was curious to see who this person was and I found this blog. I must say, I loved the saddle as soon as I rode in it, but now I will cherish it. He sounded like a great man with a wondrous heart. I wish I could have known him. My thoughts and prayers will be with you every time I use the saddle. God bless!