It is with great sadness that the family of Jeremy Allen Wilber announces his passing on January 1, 2016, after a battle with cancer. He was 66.
Wilber was born on July 8, 1950, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and soon after, his father, a TV writer, moved the family to Woodstock. He lived here except for brief periods in Schenectady and City Island. He attended Bennett Elementary and Onteora School until 10th grade, then moved to Arizona, California, and Colorado. He lived in Boulder for several years before returning to Woodstock in 1969. He tended bar at the Sled Hill Café, The Joyous Lake, Country Pie, The Hearth, and the Bear Café, alternately plied the trade of carpenter and roofer, and married Fran Lori Azouz in 1981.
He first ran for office in 1992 for a vacant seat on the Woodstock town board, but lost. He ran unsuccessfully for Town Supervisor in 1995, 1997, and won that office in 1999; at his passing he was in his 7th term as the longest serving Woodstock Town Supervisor. Projects that he supported and saw to their conclusions include the Woodstock Highway Garage, a new sidewalk to the Post Office, the Community Center renovation, the Town Hall renovation, the disposition of the Comeau Property, the cell tower, and the replacement of three bridges, all within the limits of the budget tax cap.
Wilber was a writer, and for a period of time wrote an op-ed column for the Ulster County Townsman. He recently published a novel based on his experiences in the 1960s, Miles From Woodstock (2014). A second, Select Work, is a three-part book scheduled for publication by Allori Press in the near future, including a short novel titled The Irvington, a political memoir of his 1992 town board race, and a collection of short stories. He also wrote numerous plays, the first of which, “Man and Sewerman” (1991), was a biting satire on the manner in which the Woodstock wastewater treatment plant came into being. This was followed by “The Hamlet Strikes Back” (1992), “Buttered Armadillos” (1993), and “Timid Beasts” (1996). He wrote more plays as fundraisers for local causes including “Woodstock All-Stars” (1995), a community play that included 150 townspeople in the cast, dedicated to the purchase of the Woodstock Playhouse property. Other causes he helped were the Woodstock Elementary School’s playground, and the Children’s Theater. He was a Woodstock Little League and Babe Ruth baseball coach for several years.
On September 21, 2006, Wilber greeted His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, to Woodstock, in celebration of the United Nations International Day of Peace. It was one of the most joyous moments of his life.
In May of 2016, Wilber was invited by an assistant professor at the Beijing Norman University to represent the cultural richness of Woodstock by means of a visit to China. He and his wife traveled to Beijing, where he lectured at an international masters class on the subject of management and leadership in government, was taken on a visit to a cultural development and research institute, delivered a talk on Shakespeare to a student theater club, spoke about Woodstock to a rapt gathering at a prestigious Beijing bookstore, visited an early education facility, and attended a Chinese opera performance of Verdi’s Otello.
Of all things in his life, he was proudest of his family. He is survived by his wife, Fran Lori Azouz, a daughter Abigail Louise Wilber, and a son Lee Paul Wilber; by two sisters, Alix Wilber of Seattle, WA, and Barbara Wilber of Olive; and by a brother, Chris Paul, of Red Hook. He was predeceased by his father, Carey Raymond Wilber, his mother, Elaine Mueller, and two brothers, Carey Wilber Jr. and Nicholas Frederick Balcomb.
A memorial service will be held at the Bearsville Theater in Bearsville on Sunday, January 8, at 12 noon. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Woodstock Rescue Squad, the Northern Dutchess Hospital, or the Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research.