Paul Jeffrey Peacock
“Jeff” was born on June 25, 1945 in Harlingen, Texas. It was his
mother’s birthday. She always said he was the best present she ever
Jeff grew up in Mobile, Alabama the second of four children. They were all “PJPs”
(Penelope Jean, Paul Jeffrey, Philip John, and Pamela Jane). His favorite stories were of roaming the great Wragg swamp (now a shopping mall), his father singing in church, the frantic dash to help his mom get the clothes off the line at the beginning of thunderstorms, his dad’s super secret Sunday roast gravy, the dropped bowl of chocolate pudding that ended up on the walls of every single room in the apartment, and breaking all the rules of family dinner so his mom could watch Perry Mason while they ate. Jeff was an Eagle Scout. He loved summers at Camp Pushmataha, where like Tom Sawyer, he made “Lala detail” such a wild, crazy affair that everyone wanted to sign up to clean the latrines.
After high school, Jeff worked at American National Bank for a year to earn enough money to go to Auburn University. This cemented his hatred of neckties. He graduated with a degree in Business and an interest in theater. He was in the ROTC and after graduation entered the Air Force.
Jeff was both haunted by his service as a forward air controller in Vietnam and exceedingly proud of his flying skills. As a pilot, he broke the sound barrier, flew in formation (it’s really hard), landed planes that had lost engines (less hard), and survived being shot down. He loved test flights with an evaluator in the copilot seat, and took great pride in taking care of his passengers as a VIP courier.
When Jeff finished his tour of Vietnam, he planned to buy a sailboat or a motorcycle depending on where he was stationed. While at George Air Force Base, in addition to flying officials around, he was in charge of the Cuddeback Gunnery range. He convinced the helicopter pilot who regularly ferried him out to the range to teach him how to fly it. He rode his Norton motorcycle from one end of the country to the other.
After his discharge, Jeff went to live with his parents in Sacramento and worked as a private flight instructor. He did not do this for long, maintaining it was more dangerous than anything that he ever encountered in Vietnam. Jeff first saw Humboldt from the air and it was love at first sight. Jeff’s son, Tyson was born in his Arcata kitchen in 1974. Tyson’s mother Mary moved to Iowa with Tyson when he was still a baby.
At HSU, Jeff finished what he considered to be the important parts of a master’s degree in directing. He was immensely proud of his thesis production of Mother Courage and her Children. Jeff and Nancy Forrest have different memories and stories of the first time they laid eyes on each other. They connected while acting in The Merry Wives of Windsor, produced by the Pacific Art Center. Jeff played Slender and Nancy, his servant Simple. Their parts were small which gave them time to make out backstage. This was something that they continued to enjoy for the next 39 years.
Jeff loved theatre and he loved Nancy. At the PAC, he was an actor, director, and business manager. His favorite production was Playboy of the Western World, but every show gave him something that he carried with him always.
After CETA funding for the arts dried up, Jeff started working at Yakima. He was hired to answer phones and help in the office when there were only nine employees. He worked hard to grow with the company and left as Vice President of Finance for a multi million dollar corporation. He spent over 20 years at Yakima negotiating leases, budgeting, and crunching numbers. He was in the trenches with an amazing array of humanity. He had fascinating mentors and was a patient, good humored mentor himself. He added accounting to his list of art forms and went to work every day to provide a stable home for his family. Jeff ended his career in business working eight years at the North Coast Co-op.
Jeff’s son Robin was born in 1984, transforming everything. When Robin was two, 11-year-old Tyson came to visit from Iowa… and stayed! His daughter Mica arrived on the scene in 1991 and was the icing on the family cake. Summers were spent car camping up and down the Pacific Northwest. Jeff loved playing games but was unable to lose on purpose or fake letting the kids win. He taught them how to play chess by letting them turn the board around anytime that they wanted and continue the game with his pieces. Jeff adored his children, but unlike Nancy was uncomfortable taking credit for them. He viewed them as unique and independent beings hopefully minimally burdened by connections over which they had no control.
Jeff loved throwing boomerangs, laps at the Arcata Pool, taking the dogs to the beach, canoeing in local waters, the Giants, chocolate malts, swimming in the Trinity and Smith Rivers, and having a routine. He disliked tailgaters, okra, and stringy cheese. Hardly sappy, Jeff cried up every time he watched the Alastair Sim version of A Christmas Carol because “you are never too old to learn.”
Jeff developed dementia and Parkinson’s disease. He had difficulty speaking and had a beautiful way of communicating using his hands and simple phrases. Watching his grandchildren play and squabble he said, “Zoom, zoom…beautiful.” Struggling with describing where he was born, he stated, “There’s a lot of Texas in Texas.” With the love and support of Nancy, Mica, and caregivers Ggina and Sherry, Jeff was content. He took pleasure in simple things: walking in the neighborhood, napping, neighborhood cats, deer in the yard, birds at the feeders, airplanes flying overhead, the marsh, and Moonstone Beach. He never lost his sense of humor or his connection to his family. Jeff took his last breath at home on Monday, April 20 with his wife and children by his side.
Jeff is preceded in death by his father Quentin Victor Peacock, his sister Janie, and the sister of his heart Pamela Lyall. He is survived by his mother Margaret, sister Penny, brother-in-law Tom, brother Phil, sister-in-law Jean, brother-in-law Doug, sons Tyson and Robin, daughter-in-law Misty, grandchildren Leighton and Danielle, daughter Mica, and wife Nancy.
Jeff enjoyed taking a walk every day that he was able. All are invited to celebrate Jeff on a self-guided walk in his neighborhood. There will be pictures and remembrances along the way. Start at Jeff’s house anytime between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday, May 23. The ¾ of a mile loop will be marked. Please observe social distancing and keep hugs virtual. There will be a basket in the driveway if you have a message that you want to leave. You can email email@example.com for more information. Donations can be made in Jeff’s memory to ResolutionCare. Jeff’s family will be forever grateful for their compassionate, holistic palliative care during Jeff’s last year of life.
The obituary above was submitted on behalf of Jeff Peacock’s family. The Lost Coast Outpost runs obituaries of Humboldt County residents at no charge. See guidelines here.