IN MEMORIAM: Jef Campion – 1961-2014

Hezi Aris Obituaries 27 Comments

Campion_Jef

Jef Campion was a man of transition. He was a big man who fit into stature less so. A veteran of life, a 9/11 emergency responder, an artist, a Yonkers Firefighter. A benevolent man who transformed pain among the young and wounded into the will to meet challenges head on. He knew how to reach a child’s, woman’s, or man’s want to survive toward a better day. He was the catalyst who built immediate trust with others. He had a knack; he reached people. That aspect of him was never seen. He could not acknowledge his power of good and kindness for others. He was blind to his influence onto others.

The consummate explorer of life, he did not dwell in a comfort zone that would have satisfied a simpler man. He was a seeker of meaning and truths not easily distilled or defined along life’s path. He was restless to find peace for others, yet was too often dismissive of his own needs. He lived for others in order to distance himself from his own demons that infiltrated his benevolent soul during a month-and-a-half battle against the travesty that befell Ground Zero. Jef Campion is one of those few select “heroes”.

He engaged art in exploring the horror of war in juxtaposition to sentimental assertions of peace. He worked to dispense all he could give. He was the “Pied Piper” who brought a smile to an ailing child. There are few stronger than he who could revive a child’s will to yearn for another day.

The good Lord saw fit to take him at a very young age. Grieving for him with celebration of his life and all be gave back with deep sincerity was the life few can forge. He did it.

He will be remembered when seeing the smile in that innocent child, in the woman who found comfort in his arms when calamity denied her safety, and men who were too confused to take another step. This is the legacy of a man who will live in the hearts and minds of Yonkersites with the same assurance for which he was named 2012 Firefighter of the Year by I.A.F.F. –Local 628.

A wake is to be held at Whalen & Ball Funeral Home, 168 Park Avenue., Yonkers, NY 10703, Tel: 914-965-5488, on Tuesday, January 21, 2014, from 4-8 p.m., Wednesday, January 22, 2014, from 2-4 p.m., and 7-9 p.m. Funeral services will be conducted at Immaculate Conception St. Mary, 103 South Broadway, Yonkers, NY 10701, on Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 10 a.m.

 

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Hezi ArisIN MEMORIAM: Jef Campion – 1961-2014

Comments 27

  1. Al Cerrato, YFD Retired

    Still reading the posts, imagine, now, Saturday, 0230, and sitting in my office, spare bedroom, going to type something else, and here I am again, reading,the posts, posting some on another hero, an 8 year old who died trying to save his Grandpa, what a man. Like Jeff, he was determined to be great. Whoever posted the song by Don McLean, did it perfect, he was the “Vincent”, of our time. He did so much, seeing another comment, and signed,a YFD brother, and another Union and proud of it, and one more, of many, signed a YFD brother too. Brothers, imagine that, a band of brothers, who showed they really are brothers, Thursday, in the bitter cold and it kind of made all feeling pretty good and time will make it better, in time. Rest in Peace, tonight I am smiling, so we all feel better, I can feel you smiling now. Rest in Peace, and say hello to a bunch of Brothers, that returned sooner than you did.

  2. a brother

    Starry, starry night
    Paint your pallet blue and gray
    Look out on a summer’s day
    With eyes that know the darkness in my soul
    Shadows on the hills
    Sketch the trees and the daffodils
    Catch the breeze and the winter chills
    In colors on the snowy linen land
    And now I understand
    What you tried to say to me
    How you suffered for your sanity
    How you tried to set them free
    They would not listen
    They did not know how
    Perhaps they’ll listen now
    Starry, starry night
    Flaming flowers that brightly blaze
    Swirling clouds of violet haze
    Reflect in Jef’s eyes of China blue
    Colors change in hue
    Morning fields of amber grain
    Weathered faces lined in pain
    Are soothed beneith the artist’s loving hand.
    And now I understand
    What you tried to say to me
    How you suffered for your sanity
    How you tried to set them free
    Perhaps they’ll listen now
    For they could not love you
    But still your love was true
    And when no hope was left in sight
    On that starry, starry night
    You took your life as lovers often do
    But I could have told you Jef
    This world was never meant
    For one as beautiful as you
    Starry, starry night
    Portraits hung in empty halls
    Frameless heads on nameless walls
    With eyes that watch the world and can’t forget
    Like the stranger that you’ve met
    The ragged men in ragged clothes
    The silver thorn of bloody rose
    Lie crushed and broken on the virgin snow
    And now I think I know
    What you tried to say to me
    How you suffered for your sanity
    How you tried to set them free
    They would not listen
    They’re not listening still
    Perhaps they never will

  3. a brother

    Starry, starry night
    Paint your pallet blue and gray
    Look out on a summer’s day
    With eyes that know the darkness in my soul
    Shadows on the hills
    Sketch the trees and the daffodils
    Catch the breeze and the winter chills
    In colors on the snowy linen land
    And now I understand
    What you tried to say to me
    How you suffered for your sanity
    How you tried to set them free
    They would not listen
    They did not know how
    Perhaps they’ll listen now
    Starry, starry night
    Flaming flowers that brightly blaze
    Swirling clouds of violet haze
    Reflect in Vincent’s eyes of China blue
    Colors change in hue
    Morning fields of amber grain
    Weathered faces lined in pain
    Are soothed beneith the artist’s loving hand.
    And now I understand
    What you tried to say to me
    How you suffered for your sanity
    How you tried to set them free
    Perhaps they’ll listen now
    For they could not love you
    But still your love was true
    And when no hope was left in sight
    On that starry, starry night
    You took your life as lovers often do
    But I could have told you Jef
    This world was never meant
    For one as beautiful as you
    Starry, starry night
    Portraits hung in empty halls
    Frameless heads on nameless walls
    With eyes that watch the world and can’t forget
    Like the stranger that you’ve met
    The ragged men in ragged clothes
    The silver thorn of bloody rose
    Lie crushed and broken on the virgin snow
    And now I think I know
    What you tried to say to me
    How you suffered for your sanity
    How you tried to set them free
    They would not listen
    They’re not listening still
    Perhaps they never will

  4. BRUNA NISTICO

    JUST WANTED TO SAY THAT JEFF WAS ONE IN A MILLION NO ONE CAN TAKE HIS PLACE WILL MISS HIM VERY MUCH AND HOPE HE CAN REST IN PEACE ALL OUR THOUGHTS AND PRAYS FOR THE FAMILY THE NISTICO FAMILY

  5. Jim Hartigan,YFD retired

    Jeff was a free spirit.He was someone who drew you to him as soon as he entered the room.Jeff greeted you with a smile ,a handshake or a hug.Jeff was just cool and could seemingly do and accomplish anything he wanted to.He gave 100 percent to everything he did and to everyone he met.He gave to the Fire department by working hard being the best FireFighter he could be ,and he truly accomplished that.He worked hard for the union,earning Union Man of the Year.He won his nomination as Cosmopolitan Bachelor. If someone needed something built or fixed Jeff was there.If someone ,or their family,were ill ,Jeff helped find the best doctors,and drove them to threapy.Jeff worked tirelessly for Ronald McDonald House and the Kids,His Kids.Jeff went down to the Towers after 9/11 and stayed to give 100 percent,he did that to where he got ill.Jeff gave and gave and gave and he sought nothing in return.Jeff was a giver and I am sure that he told few of his pains as it was not in his nature to want anything from anyone for himself.We do not know the extent of his pains,his illness.Jeff saw too much in his young life.Too much pain and suffering from what we see on the Fire Department,which is A Lot compared to those who are not exposed to peoples lose ,pain,and death on a regular basis nor the death of co workers in the line of duty.Jeff saw
    co workers and or their families experience illness,sickness and death.Jeff saw innocent children with illnesses and sickness they did not deserve and he saw them pass.I have read above where some say he committed suicide well who are we to judge him ? No he saw too much death and the result of extended illnesses and the way it impacted those friends,relatives and parents and he CHOSE his own exit,so keep your opinions of how he chose to leave to yourselves.(just as it need not have been written by the news papers,but it sells and the truth must told right? Vultures)I am sure after all he had seen on this Earth in his short time he understood what pain this act would cause those who cared for him and knew him,but for an active guy,who loved being alive and enjoying it,making the ultimate decision had to be an option that he thought long and hard about and one which he concluded would spare those who cared about him.Jeff was a Super Star in life and is now a Star in Heaven.Jeff was an Angel who brought good thoughts,happiness and love to all and he is now an Angel in Heaven.I gave a choice for those who are uncertain of a God, an ultimate power,I gave an option as a star as Einstein said,energy never dies it just transforms and moves on and where ever Jeff’s energy moves on to he will be a STAR.
    Many just live life ,do little and are remembered by few.Others live life and make a difference and are remembered by many. Jeff is lucky he did SO MUCH he will be remembered by MANY for generations as he impacted old,young fit and frail and he made a difference in peoples lives.What have you / we done in comparison to Jeff,The Army Of One ?
    Jeff, REST In PEACE MY FRIEND ,you fit three life times of giving into your short time. Time to Rest Now,you deserve it.
    Till we meet again.

  6. celeste

    Jeffery was my cousin but we lived far away from each other and I wish I had had the chance to know him and see him more. I know GOD blessed him with every thing God could give a young man. He was a blessing to many and a good soul, my heart breaks for the loss of a cousin I wish I could have known better. He was saddened in life by all he lived through and all he saw that was wrong in this world. Know that he is loved and will live in the heart of many.

  7. YFD

    I didn’t know Jeff well and have been only on the Department for 4 years. What I can say about Jeff was he didn’t need to be a firefighter to be a hero, he already was one. I wish I was half as unselfish he was…. Rest in Peace and may your legacy live forever through us and others…

  8. Albert J. Cerrato

    Its 20 minutes to two in the morning, doing things around here, lots going on, best time to catch up. I am reading these posts again, possibly the 3rd or 4th time. Seems these Legacy walls, are moving tributes to ones we love. I read some posts about God. Is there one? If you believe there is no explanation necessary, and if you don’t, then nothing will needs to be said. Great Scholars have believed. Our lives are pre-determined, I think Aristotle believed. Then they had nothing to do but think, there minds weren’t poisoned by the ills of society. Possibly and I believe, and believe possibly that this is all an experiment so to speak. Look out at the Universe on a dark clear night, and try to explain to yourself, where did it all come from? You may be one of those that just never look up, or if you do, say to yourself, there are stars out tonight, without seeing the beauty they possess. What secrets are out there, who is out there? If you have imagination, then you believe. Great Spirits always did. Columbus could have hung around a pub in Spain, but chose to go to Sea. Why? Why not he thought, what is out there. The skeptics said he would fall off the edge, he wasn’t even worried about that, he thought beyond that. The edge is where everyone goes up to, and then returns to the where they started. The dreamers go further, they test the waters, no matter how dangerous, and they lead the way so others can see what they seen. Jeff was all that. On a smaller scale, he was a Columbus, a Chuck Yeager, on a smaller scale, but effective in what he accomplished. I never really understood the passion he had for Ronald McDonald House. He was drawn to it; it was his mission, his purpose. He did well. Is it possible that we all have assignments we don’t know about? Some never leave quarters, so to speak. Jeff did, he forged ahead. Like in the Robert Frost Poem, “The Road not Taken”, he took the Path Less Travelled, and it made all the difference. He touched lives, and in turn they touched his. It was his mission in life, he had no choice, and he was destined for it. He wanted it all, to be an artist, to help others, to save others, to rush to Ground Zero, to help, to help his brother Firefighters, who he didn’t even know. To save just one life, that is what he felt, “If only, I can save one life”, as he dug among the pile, and inhaled that poison that those cowards brought upon us. He didn’t know, he didn’t care, at the time, what and how it would affect him. And so, one day, tired, maybe sick, thinking like he always did, he felt he did enough, maybe we all know when its time. He chose his time, we don’t have that luxury. I think, and I believe, it was time to go home, and he again led the way. I can’t even believe how much you affected me, as I write this, with tears falling. Rest in Peace old friend, you will never be forgotten.

  9. Proud to be from the Yonkers Community

    Thank you for the tribute to Jef’s life. He was a wonderful human that made the lives of many people so much better. I can only hope that he knew during his life the positive effect he had on others and the love felt towards him by so many people. We can all continue his legacy by being kind to one another. Rest in Peace Jef.

  10. Albert J. Cerrato, YFD retired

    I don’t want to post again, but have to. I am known for my multiples. However, reading one above, it brought me to look, in my office at the framed poem of Robert Frost, “The Road Not Taken”, I invite everyone to read that poem, and then you will understand who Jeff, really was. It explained his destiny, to a degree. Rest in Peace old boy, you earned it.

  11. Albert J. Cerrato

    That opening tribute to Jef was without doubt the most eloquent I have ever read. It summed up who Jef was, and flowed like a cool mountain stream, in the spring of the year. It felt so comforting to read that, that tribute to Jef, who did more than I even knew. I knew he was different when he first came on the job. He was a rookie that already had a salty personality. He was curious, and deliberate in all that he did. Was he possibly a little different? No he was a lot different as you can see in the descriptions of his life by his friends and admirers. He helped me on numerous occasions, trying to get something read by people who knew what was what. He always had that cool approach, curt and you knew it was getting done, or would be soon. All business? Maybe, but not really. His enjoyment came from what he did. Was he a Vincent, as in another famous artist, troubled and tortured, because he wanted to make the world right? Who knows what demons each of us have? He handled it well, he never slowed down. He told me one time he won a lottery and found out during dinner with a girl he was with. He said, coolly, as he explained it, and I visualized it, come on, meet me outside. He won a substantial amount, and couldn’t contain the excitement of it, she didn’t come out right away, he said, and he kind of yelled at her, because he had it choreographed, in his mind, to let out a yell, like he said. “I freaking won”, maybe it was a 100,000, forgot, but he numbers were big. He told this, as I pictured, in my mind, drinking or sipping as they say, a nice Chianti. What a piece of work he was. To hear how abruptly he left, is not sitting to well with me. Some pass on, to wherever we go, just matter of factly. Not this guy, he left in, if you can understand, a dramatic way, he left to let us all know, how much he meant. He meant a lot to many. I haven’t seen him in years, but he is one that you can just say, what’s up, like you seen him yesterday. To borrow a phrase from a Johnny Cash song, of another great image, “There was a Man”.

  12. Pete Dronzek

    The fire in Jef’s heart and soul will remain kindled in every firefighters heart forever.
    Thanks for the beautiful tribute.

  13. YFD Brother

    I have been wanting to Post about Jeff for some time now, but I wanted to grieve first, dispose of my anger second, and then try to collect my thoughts into words.
    First and foremost: Jeff was always a complete gentleman!
    Jeff was always kind to me even when the “job” dictated that it was not popular to be kind to me! Every encounter I can recollect with Jeff always brings a smile to my face and warmth to my heart.
    To err is human, forgive divine. Jeff was divine!
    I loved him.
    I loved what he stood for.
    I am proud to have known him.
    I am proud to have helped him from time to time.
    I am proud and honored to call him “brother.”
    I shall very much miss our conversations.
    His torment is over now. He has battled the inequities and tragedies life threw at so many people for so long that I think he lost himself in the process. I truly believe his heart was broken.
    Jeff was a Champion for the weak and infirmed, plain and simple.
    Jeff was a booming voice to a society that chose deafness!
    Who would have the strength to face that every day? Granted, Jeff chose his path (some would say), but could it be that this path was chosen for him? I choose to believe in the later.
    I truly believe Jeff finally saw the “truth” about our species as it relates to war, needless death, dying children, and especially, 911.
    Ideology and politics aside, Jeff was on the front lines battling for the 911 responders that fell ill only to discover his own accelerated demise from being on that pile for over a week.
    It is ironic.
    It is not fair.
    It is truly unjust.
    Does the world care?
    I pray that he has peace now.
    I pray that he is surrounded by all the souls he has touched who left this planet before him.
    I pray……………
    God speed Jeff.
    I’m 10-09

  14. LIONS AND TIGERS AND MAYORS, OH MY

    To Rebecca,
    I didn’t infer from this story that the writer blamed God for anything. Maybe he was just trying to convey the fact that God takes all of the good ones home with him, at the end, and as a Roman Catholic, I believe Jef is there with him as I write this. I have known three people who have taken their own lives and one never gets used to hearing of a friend or family member leaving the world in such a way.

  15. Rebecca

    It is always sad when a person feels hopeless enough to take his own life. Why would the reporter state that the Good Lord took him? Why is God being blamed for someone committing suicide is beyond me. No offense, just sticking up for God here.

  16. Meiling Macias Toro

    Much better story, thank you! I am proud of Jef’s accomplishments. Glad to have known him while in High School. We should pray for his soul to rest in peace!

  17. Christine

    Thank you for the beautiful piece on Jeffery ( that is what I called him). He was the most amazing person I know. My husband and I use to go down to the Ronald McDonald House during the Christmas Holidays when Jeffery would bring toys for the sick children. To see their faces light up would make me cry and to see how they would run to him and hug him. I can go on and on, but I must say he will be truly missed by everyone who knew him.

  18. Carter

    Thank you for such a beautiful piece on such a beautiful man. Jef touched my heart as well as my sons heart during our stay at the Ronald McDonald house and he was such a giver! He will be missed! RIP Jef

  19. LIONS AND TIGERS AND MAYORS, OH MY

    Wonderful story, Hezi. You focused on the way Jef lived his life rather than sensationalize the way he left us.
    I would imagine the LOHUD reporter might have had to deal with his editor with respect to what could have very easily been eliminated from their coverage. It would be great if this “mainstream” media which has not had a clue about this city for a very long time, gets the message via a groundswell of cancellations of subscriptions to both their hard copy “newspapers” and their online subscriptions. With respect to News12, Ms. Rose has often chosen to cover their stories with almost as heavy a hand as she applies her eye makeup. Maybe a switch to Verizon will be forthcoming.

  20. R I P. Jeff

    Jeff thank you for everything and everyone you touched in your life. All I can say is I hope all of my kids have half heart and compassion you have , you took care of every one of those sick and dying kids at the Ronald Mc Donald House as if they were your own. You did more selfless acts of kindness than any 10 people I know. Every time you called me and looked for something it was never for you it was always for the kids at the house. You understand the difference between giving of ones self and giving a check. We all live busy lives but you always made time for your friends , family and all your kids.
    I can see it now , you walked into this huge bright open room and their were 1000′s of kids running around none of them sick anymore and Arod and Patty were standing in the middle of them pat was was making them helium balloons and Arod was giving them rides on the coolest merry go round you had ever seen that he had just built. They both look up and smile and say we’ve been waiting for you Jeffery ….
    This job will never be the same without you, it’s so fitting that you were just union man of the year, you stood up for what you believed in and what you loved and that was our job your job. You used to always say their isn’t a job in the world I would trade than being a Yonkers Fireman their was nothing better in your eyes. Man oh man are we going to miss u. Until we meet again. I love you and miss you my brother.
    Ps Greg the reporter from the lohud cell phone number is 914 220 2635 in case anyone would like to talk to him to tell him what the real CAMP ….

  21. John Khader

    I met Jef only a few times and after the first time I can tell he was a real true gentleman, and some one that was always available to lend a helping hand to any one in need,no one can explain why God would take him so quick from us,unless he needed another Angel RIP JEF ………..

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