I met Jeffro Ridner again at Godby High School's first fortieth reunion two years ago. His mom was a favorite teacher of mine while I attended Godby, and I told him so at that time. I have been working with his classmates since that reunion on the next 40th reunion, and was expecting to see Jeffro at his class reunion in a few weeks.
Jeffro is well-known among Tallahassee's bands, having played with many of them over the years. I was last on stage with him at the American Legion Hall in Tallahassee on December 31, 2002.
Jeffro passed away suddenly and unexpectedly of a stroke on July 8. I attended his Celebration of Life at the American Legion Hall on Sunday afternoon, July 29. I spoke with Mick beforehand about what I wanted to say, and was welcomed to do so shortly after the memorial part of the festivities began.
On behalf of the Association of Godby Graduates and his Class of 1972, I expressed condolences to his family and friends, and told everyone that Jeffro would be missed at his 40th class reunion at the Golden Eagle Country Club on Saturday evening, August 18. Acme Rythm and Blues then announced that they would be playing right there at the American Legion Hall in his honor Friday night before the reunion, August 17. That night sounds like a fun idea for any reunion attendees who are here in town the day before.
Others spoke of common experiences, and of Jeffro's kindness to his family and to all others in his life. His girlfriend with whom he had very recently reconciled after a thousand days apart, spoke of their love and close relationship with his extended family.
Then we were treated to a procession of Jeffro's bands, and I played "Love Shack" with Pure Platinum, with Jeffro's photos, tenor sax and hat on stage, and it was just like New Year's Eve again, on an early Sunday summer evening before dark at the American Legion Hall.
Jeffro's life touched a lot of others', and we were all happy to be there to remember him together where he had so often played for and with us.
Photo by Sandy Hopkins