Letters to the Editor, week of Feb. 22, 2012

Author leaves lasting memories for St. Louisan

After the tragic and untimely death of author Jeffrey Zaslow, as possibly the person in St. Louis who has known Jeff the longest, he is compelling me to write for a newspaper-again.

The last and only other time was 30 years ago. A framed copy of that article still hangs in my mother’s office. Jeff was editor of The Tartan, the student newspaper at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU); I was a psychology major and co-director of the student-run counseling center. Jeff asked me to write a piece on how to help a friend with a personal problem. I tried to beg off because I have never thought of myself as a writer. But Jeff insisted I was the right person for the job. That was Jeff: altruistic and encouraging.

Three years ago while at CMU for parents’ weekend, where our son was a freshman, I picked up a copy of The Tartan and brought it back to St. Louis-for Jeff. I tried to give it to him when he was a celebrity author at the Jewish Book Festival. It is a sign of our times that a festival host became alarmed by a woman holding something and trying to get close to the visiting author. She asked me to step back. But even in the busy excitement of the event, Jeff caught sight of what was happening. “Sue!” he called out and pushed forward to hug me. That was Jeff: alert to people’s feelings.

I know I am not alone in sadness at our loss of a great mensch.

Suellen Meyer Koppel, Ph.D.

St. Louis