Remembrances of Jeremy Wilber

A Huge Heart

Jeremy Wilber and I once carried a toilet on a litter up Mill Hill Road on a Saturday afternoon in 1990. It was an effort to get the Town of Woodstock to help the Village pay for their recently installed sewer. It was fun, but with serious intent. Jeremy was beginning to apply his crackling intelligence and huge heart to local politics. We were unsuccessful, but it was not wasted time.

My wife, Holly, and I, were New Yorker newlyweds and weekenders. We had just rented Jeremy’s house on Deming St. when he sized me up like a big brother and asked me to help carry the toilet. We soon found we had a lot in common: bartenders, writers, self-taught showfolk, unapologetically ambitious, married to strong, funny women, and able to talk well into the lengthening shadows of a Catskill night. Folks mention what an amazing raconteur he was, but Jeremy was also a deep, active listener, in whom one’s words resonated.

Jeremy and his wife, Fran, captivated Holly and me; we sought to emulate them in the hopes of having so rich a life: the great kids, the cool house (built by Jeremy), the strong-yet-flexible marital bond, and most of all, a vibrant, distinctive community to which they gave, and from which they received sustenance.

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I asked Jeremy’s advice several times, on matters political and creative. About six years ago, he read my second attempt at a novel (unpublished), and invited me to his house to talk about it. “This book’s got a lotta heart,” he said. “But I think you’ve got a better book in you.” I told him I was nervous about “going deep.” “To hell with that,” he said, stern, but smiling. “Just write the thing.” I did.

Jeremy used both language and nonviolent action to protect and nurture the life we all share, both locally and globally, and he vigorously engaged his muse regardless of potential outcome. He applied his considerable family man skills to his community, and he’s inspired me to do the same. Time leaves its mark on all of us, but Jeremy showed how to leave our mark on time, and how to do it with laughter, kindness, integrity, and love. Rest in Power, Jeremy, and thank you.

Robert Burke Warren
Phoenicia

 

Jeremy’s Unique Blend

When the sad New Years day news of Jeremy Wilber’s passing came, I reflected on Jeremy and the job of Woodstock Supervisor. Having occupied that seat I have some understanding of its complexities. It is, simply put, a major league juggling act.

Jeremy had a unique blend of intellect, compassion and small town sensitivity. One evening at a contentious packed town board meeting (unusual I know) I watched Jeremy’s unique blend in action and the finale was quiet consensus. Later I commented to Jeremy that I thought that herding cats was impossible until that evening. I will remember his laughing response fondly.

When Jeremy was first elected I said “What are we going to do with him?” Today I say, “what are we going to do without him?”

Well done Jeremy.

John Lavalle
Woodstock

 

Friend And Mentor

Jeremy was a friend and mentor to me from the Little League field to my start in government. His mind always amazed me — whether it was teaching me as a kid the strategies of chess at family picnics or schooling me on the intricacies of town and county finances. He was as brilliant as he was kind. He always listened — often with legs crossed, leaning back with a hand on his chin and never breaking eye contact. He was a soft spoken hero whose dedication and true love for our town has allowed us to live so well in our special corner of the earth.

Jonathan Heppner
Ulster County Legislator
Woodstock

 

The Spirit of Jeremy

We have lost a friend in Jeremy Wilber. It was clear that Jeremy loved the region, the people and the history. Working with him was always pleasant and productive. His intelligent approach to management and his crossover skills in government and the arts made him an ideal supervisor for the town of Woodstock. Jeremy helped make the Drum Boogie Festivals in Woodstock produced by the Woodstock Chimes Fund a tremendous success. It is sad to think that he will not be at the next festival in September of this year but his spirit will be ever present.

Garry and Diane Kvistad
Woodstock Chimes

 

Hein: Wilber Set A High Bar

It was with profound sadness that I learned of the loss of my friend Jeremy Wilber. His honor, intellect and dedication to his family, friends and all the people of Woodstock permeated his very being and everything he did. He set an extremely high bar of lasting accomplishments and true public service and our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, children and all those who loved and respected this amazing person.

In his honor, I have directed that flags at all County facilities to be lowered to half-staff for the entire week.

Mike Hein, Ulster County Executive
Kingston

 

Land Conservancy Condolences

The board & staff of the Woodstock Land Conservancy were deeply saddened to learn of Supervisor Jeremy Wilber’s passing on New Year’s Day. We extend our sincerest condolences to Jeremy’s family, and as well to his friends and colleagues of which there are so, so many.

Jeremy passionately and selflessly served the Town and community for a great number of years. Over that time, he came to be a true friend to the Conservancy and our mission. Whether it was regarding protecting land on Overlook Mountain, fostering stewardship of Comeau, or the protection of Woodstock’s water rights, we found Jeremy’s door was always open. And we learned we could count on him, to both give and to receive honest, unvarnished advice, including when it mattered most.

In our view, Jeremy was utterly committed to both the idea and the actuality of Woodstock and the Colony of the Arts, to preserving the character and beauty of our community. He seemed to thrive on reconciling the crazy, poetic idea of Woodstock with the messy nitty-gritty of real world governance, and did so with humor and grace. For that and much, much more we will deeply miss him, and we celebrate his life and service.

Kevin Smith, Board Chair
Patty Goodwin, President
Grace Murphy, Vice President
Maxanne Resnick, Executive Director

 

Comedy Fest Will Miss Jeremy

Woodstock Comedy Festival mourns the death of our Supervisor Jeremy Wilber. Our town lost an essential Woodstocker and he will be long missed. Jeremy strongly supported our Woodstock Comedy Festival and made a guest appearance in the very first one, in 2013 (https://www.facebook.com/WoodstockComedyFestival/). We are grateful to him for his support, and offer our deepest condolences to his family.

Chris Collins
Bearsville

 

Jeremy, A Hero And Friend

From the first time I met Jeremy he was immediately one of my heroes! At the first meeting of the Woodstock Arts Board (formed to raise money to buy the land upon which to build a new Playhouse) I was chosen to write the first Town play which Nancy produced. Many of our townspeople became actors in this play (called, “The Woodstock All Stars”). Quite frankly, although I had already written one skit I was agonizing over the concept of writing the whole thing! At the second meeting Jeremy shows up with an entire scripted play in hand. I was saved by his fortuitous arrival! He acted as Director and made certain that it would become the play extaordinaire. From the very start Jeremy was my hero and my friend forever.

Lenny Kislin
Woodstock

 

Harris Condolence

Scoop, there was so much more to you. Rest in Peace.

Howard Harris
Woodstock

 

Jeremy Was A Big Supporter

It was with profound sadness that I heard of the death of Jeremy Wilber. Although I knew he had been very ill, it was still a shock. Jeremy was always a very big supporter of my WPAT show Alan’s Italy. In 2013 when I applied to the Venice Biennale for Press Credentials which would permit me correspondent status at the world famous contemporary art exhibition, I asked Jeremy to write a letter endorsing my candidacy. His letter referring to me as “The Town of Woodstock’s Ambassador to the Venice Biennale,” surely had a major effect on the decision of the Biennale authorities to grant me the appropriate credentials. Throughout the week we spent in Venice, I was permitted to go up to many artists requesting interviews, and they in turn seeing the badge on my lapel, also requested to participate. The result was that I came home with about two dozen video-taped interviews with artists from all over the world which I subsequently used to create several episodes of Alan’s Italy, which still can be seen on Youtube. That experience was one of the great times of my life; Jeremy’s endorsement and wonderfully effective letter probably permitted that to happen. It is my fondest wish that the pain of this terrible loss for Jeremy’s family is soothed over time by memories of similar amazing things he did for people in our community.

Alan J. Greenhalgh
Woodstock

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