Jeff Cannon was born without a pause button on March 26, 1963, in Greenwich Village, which somehow must have had something to do with the village’s ferocious revival, then underway. His father was a corporate executive and jazz aficionado and his mother was an artist and founder of a west-village pottery school. His family briefly moved to John Denver’s 1970’s Colorado, and then to the patron (and partying) estates of 1980’s Far Hills, New Jersey. Throughout, Jeff excelled as a friend and bon vivant, and his post-soccer game kegs and toga parties were occasionally attended by parents and police.
Jeff graduated from Syracuse University in 1985, where he was officially reprimanded for organizing underwear runs, and immediately returned to Hoboken and then lower Manhattan where he worked as a PR-man for the public relations and communications firm, Burson-Marsteller. He donned ascots, threw wicked parties, roared at McSorley’s, and nimbly moved through what could have become a perfectly grand career. Instead, he moved to Los Angeles where he talked his way into movie gigs and Internet start-ups, and in-between camped and reveled from Monterrey to San Filipe, trekked Mount Whitney and Death Valley in a single day, and gave at Burning Man when only the itchy-scratchy showed up.
In 1991, Jeff was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis (NF2), a progressive disease that causes the growth of tumors throughout the nervous system. It mistakenly identified Jeff as an easy mark, but it brought him his first brain surgery at age 28. Not to be deterred, Jeff authored his first book, refined his cooking skills (already formidable), and began his enduring relationship with his soulmate, Laura Lendrum. The happy couple moved back to lower Manhattan where they both flourished. They married at the United Nations chapel. Jeff started several companies and authored several more books and Laura rose to the stratosphere at Gucci and Ralph Lauren. On weekends they sailed on the Sound where they fished and dove for mussels, and were the toast of many a city fete, to which Jeff often wore a variety of fine vests. They looked splendid, side by side, walking paparazzo runways.
His nemesis struck again and more brain surgeries followed, ten in total, from which Jeff did not extinguish. Nonetheless, he did begin collecting walking sticks. He began a new path as a meditation and life coach. In time, he left noisy Manhattan for the halcyon Hudson Valley and then funky St. Petersburg where he sunned himself at the Black Crow Café while listening to spoken poetry or contemplating new coaching ideas. He would not accept pity and lied to everyone about his condition. In 2021, with diminishing use of his arms or legs, Jeff gained entry into the charitable Masonic Home of Florida. Non-stop to the end, Jeff’s last ambition was to lead meditation for other residents, “folks who,” in his view, “really had it bad.”
Jeff “kicked it,” as he put it, in hospice, on September 23, 2021. He leaves his brothers and sisters-in-law, Marc and Mona, and Jon and Pam; his sister-in-law and her husband, Tiffiny and Adam; his stepsister Kathy and her family; five nieces and a nephew, Emily, Brenna, Quinn, Kendall, and Lily; his regular lunch moll, Mary; J, and many, many more dear friends; and his partner of many decades, Laura.
A meditation walk will be held at the High Line park in lower Manhattan on November 13. Those who choose to give a gift to remember Jeff are asked to make a contribution in his name to the Children’s Tumor Foundation, https://www.ctf.org.