I knew Jeff both professionally and personally. He was one of the first people I met when I arrived in Philadelphia as a 23-year-old, trying to find a role for myself in the field of community development.
When I worked for the City, he offered the services of his new development services company to collaborate on the design of a new housing financing program using federal stimulus funds. He was a trusted development partner, but he also pushed hard to include smart building standards and strong energy efficiency measures in a program that was simply trying to move money quickly into distressed markets. Jeff saw an opportunity do better and pushed to make it happen.
Last spring, I told Jeff that Julie and I were traveling to Italy for our anniversary and asked him for some ideas of what to see while we were in Rome. Always generous, he invited me to lunch at one of his favorite restaurants, a small white-tablecloth Italian place in East Falls called Fiorino. Over a two-hour lunch and two bottles of wine, he talked to me about his travels in and around Rome, his family in the Umbria region of Italy, growing up with his family in Trenton, food, culture, art, mountains. We also talked about community development, real estate developers, civic life and, of course, health care. I left our lunch buoyed by Jeff’s enthusiasm and joy, despite his ongoing battle with cancer.
Jeff’s interest in and enjoyment of life was infectious. He pushed hard when he needed to, shared what he knew generously, and helped to make the world a better place for all of us.
I miss him already.