Remembering Our Friend Jeff

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One of the aspects of reaching old age is watching family and friends — some of them long time friends — shuffle off this mortal coil. I have four brothers and three sisters. Now there are only four of us: my older sister and two younger brothers. I think about them and meditate on my gratitude for having all of them in my life, along with our extended family and all the friends who have played a part, small or large, in my life.

This morning I just received the news that my friend Jeff Worman has passed away. I’ve known Jeff for about 41 years. We met at the Crazy Shepherd in 1982. He and I, along with many others, were featured in the inaugural edition of that paper. It was a monthly at first, but then morphed into a weekly and became the Shepherd Express once the Shepherd and The Express merged.

I thought his art, cartoons, were strange. Actually, they remain strange — and funny. They fall under the title “Zeal at Zero.” He also wrote off kilter commentary about life on this planet, in this solar system, in this galaxy, in this universe, reminding us of our small, somewhat inconsequential place in the possibly infinite expanse of this universe. I shouldn’t overlook his radio personality: Deke Marler.

Thankfully we can derive small satisfaction knowing we had some impact and influence on the people, places and things that make up our individual and social circles. Jeff certainly felt that in his life. The times he and I spoke with each other, by phone, we took great pleasure discussing his latest creations, be they cartoons, literary posts or his radio show featuring Deke Marler.

The “Zeal at Zero” cartoons are great, but his written posts were are exquisite literature, exploring our world and universe from the eye of an explorer who cast off conventions to come to a conclusion, or at least an ending that made sense somehow, in a very individual style.

That all is fitting. If you look at his Facebook page, he listed himself as a “Citizen at Earth.”

His cartoons and posts were always enjoyable (and still are), and are very inspirational as well as informational. He wrote about his time at McMurdo Station, Antarctica and flipping into a new year, Or his take on the Milwaukee Bucks winning their second NBA Championship in 2021.

We never knew what to expect when Jeff started tapping away at his computer keyboard or sketching out a cartoon. On occasion he would ponder the pros and cons of making a single frame ’toon or multi-frame. Jeff thought he should do more multi-frame cartoons. What do I know? Whether a single illustration or the multi variety, they were going to be funny.

Zeal at Zero … The Hourly Why … Deke Marler … The not so random thoughts of Jeff Worman. The ‘toons were always worth a view or two and the literature was (is) always a good read. His Hourly Why posts were just in a different level, as if they were from another dimension that is just around the corner.

He was different — I keep thinking we should still consider Jeff in the present tense.

Jeff Worman in Antarctica, with McMurdo Station in the distance (Jeff Worman)

Jeff and I got to know each other because of the great 1982 cult film, Blade Runner. It was directed by Ridley Scott, from a novel by Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. It starred Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Edward James Olmos, M. Emmet Walsh, William Sanderson, Daryl Hannah, Joanna Cassidy, Brion James and others.

We saw a couple midnight showings of the film at the Oriental Theatre in Milwaukee. We also saw the David Lynch classic, Eraserhead at an Oriental midnight showing.

Just an aside: I didn’t see the midnight showings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show until the late 1980s, long after it became a cult hit with the rice and pieces of toast being tossed about.

If you haven’t seen any of those three cult films, you really should. Find a midnight showing of Rocky Horror though so you can experience the audience participation.

Back to Jeff. We talked about the sequel to Blade Runner, Blade Runner 2049, which is just as good as the first one.

Yeah, Jeff Worman … He is a character. I enjoyed our phone conversations as we talked about our latest writing projects or, in his case, the ’toons; and we also talked about his bicycle and motorcycle adventures because he always put a lot of photos on his Facebook page.

The Yahara River (Jeff Worman)

For the longest time he lived in rural Walworth County, WI, surrounded by the beauty of nature. Eventually the disease he lived with for the past year or more required him to be in an assisted living facility. He had his friends and sister around him. Because he was such a friendly and interesting person, Jeff didn’t lack for friends and I am so very grateful he is my friend.

Jeff Worman selfie

Click Here for the complete catalogue of Jeff’x contributions.

4 thoughts on “Remembering Our Friend Jeff

  • November 14, 2023 at 8:29 am

    Great eulogy, Tim. Spot on. I’d forgotten about Deke Marler and his pirate radio station. Now I hear that voice. I always thought he’d done some cosmic traveling somehow. He definitely had the perspective of being a small speck in an endless universe – which I guess we are, but he made it fun and it was easy to feel a part of that. When he got more involved with putting the paper together the music went from Dylan to Talking Heads, and it was never the same as it ever was. May he Rest In Peace, and continue his cosmic quest.

    • Tim Forkes
      November 14, 2023 at 9:02 am

      Thanks Kurt. Jeff gave the small speck a little attention as it peered out over the ever devolving earth scape.

  • December 6, 2023 at 6:05 pm

    Every biking trail, hiking trail, cross country skiing trail, snorkeling lake and kayaking river, makes me think of Jeff. I knew him for over 50 years and most of that time was spent loving the outdoors and staying active. We spent most weeks together in motion, enjoying the outdoors. He was a very witty companion who often “accidentally” added miles to all of our expeditions. We began to challenge our biking group to find routes that included long rides, swimming and ice cream. He was a blessing and the only person I know who embraced the outdoors as much as I do. Home is where we drop off our work attire and run outside. I miss him everyday when I am outside. I know he will be there, with my three dogs, to greet me when I pass from this world. Until we meet again, I will tip my cap on every trail in his honor.

  • December 7, 2023 at 7:45 pm

    The passing of Jeff is a tremendous loss to me.

    I want to thank all the men and women for giving Jeff a dignified departure. Your comments and memories were touching. Jeff and I were on the same freshman football team at Nicolet, although we didn’t start hanging out until 1978 in the Twin Cities. He didn’t use the Moniker Deke Marler until sometime later. I didn’t start using the alias Skip Billings until some years later. Billings had a keen eye for women, and that’s where it stopped.

    It started out something like this:
    I was working the daywatch out of my one room shanty in Minneapolis, when my partner stepped out for a bag of doughnuts. His name was Pump, Joe Pump, P.U.M.P. I had heard through the grapevine that Marler was shackin’ out in St. Paul, living on his security clearance, operating under the alias of Jeff Worman. So, I called him out of the blue. Marler and I agreed to meet at The Pink Poodle, 8:00PM sharp. Now, The Pink Poodle was a cross between Vittucci’s and Victors and every bit as decadent. I asked Marler for a match and he said ya your face and your hinder portion. I said I like you already, Marler. We talked about Jesus. We talked about earth; we talked about soils. We talked about girth. We talked about living. We talked about loss. We talked about risking. We talked about toss.
    I asked him where he got the name Deke Marler, he said got the idea from an old Tab Hunter movie.
    We effortlessly, slipped in and out of our alter-egos. There were times we didn’t know which one we were talking to. It led to many laughs.
    How about the time we made fart sounds late at night at his apt. and nobody complained.
    How about the time we ran around The Audubon Center carrying big sticks, acting like cavemen, freaking out some people.
    How about the time I was tripping at one of his parties, and when the building manager called about the noise, I hung up on him. The manager kicked the party out into 5-degree weather.
    How about the lady at Pink Poodle that implored us to “Get these spiders off of me.”
    These were the younger teenage years.
    The acid was from Switzerland. And Sleep is the new Sex.
    Allow me to add this: I am he, as you are he as you are me and we are all together, I’m Crying.
    I pray that The LORD would comfort you all
    He was a man of amazing honesty. He was a man of good character. We’ll all take him with us.
    Because of our friendship with him, we will all carry him with us.
    Do take care.
    Sincerely, Phil
    P.S.- Much, much more could be said. Thanks To All You

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