Obituary of Jeffrey David DeJames
Jeffrey “Jeff” David DeJames (59), of Columbia, South Carolina, departed this earth on Sunday, December 3, 2023, less than 8 months after being diagnosed with Diffuse Large B-cell Lymphoma. Jeff is survived by his wife of 33 years, Shawn Lavery DeJames; their four beloved children: Dylan (Robert) Bonds, Torin A. DeJames, Aidan J. DeJames, and Pierson E. DeJames; four older siblings: Karen A. Hattler, Robin (Greg) Hartle, Marc T. DeJames, and R. Scott (Bernadette) DeJames; his father-in-law, R. Patrick Lavery, Jr.; sisters-in-law: Shannon N. Lavery and Sloan A. Lavery; 12 nieces and nephews; seven great nieces and nephews; many cousins and friends and two annoying dogs, Tyson and Gizmo. He was predeceased by his parents: Robert and Dolores DeJames (née Zawislak); his mother-in-law, Patricia J. Lavery (née Zyck); and his brother-in-law, James J. Hattler.
Jeff was born in Lackawanna, NY and grew up playing outside with his friends, cousins and brothers. He had fond memories of neighborhood basketball games, bicycle riding, his uncle’s “farm” that had no animals and, as a teenager, hanging out in the neighborhood “woods” and snowmobiling. Jeff graduated from Williamsville North High School in 1982 and later from Erie Community College. In 1988, Jeff moved from Western New York to work in the Cleveland, OH area for a couple of years and then he and Shawn relocated to Columbia, South Carolina in 1990 where they lived together for 33 years. Although the man left WNY, the WNY never left the man. He forever craved Buffalo style pizza, wings, Costanzo rolls, Mighty Taco and, during football season, he complained about his “Buffalo Hillbillies” aka the Buffalo Bills.
Jeff and Shawn went on their first date on his 20th birthday and eventually married and built an amazing life together sharing the opportunities and difficulties that came along the way. Jeff’s greatest gift, and what made him happiest (and, at times, the most aggravated), was his family. He had four children within six years and actively raised them. Not only did he change a lot of diapers, attend too many ballet performances to count, sleep on hard ground or tiny ship beds with the Boy Scouts, and drive a lot of carpool, he also put up with (loved) a variety of neighborhood kids that were constantly in and out of the house.
With relatively few complaints, Jeff went and did (almost) everything Shawn wanted to do, whether it was grocery shopping, hiking, kayaking, family vacations that required a lot of driving (on his part only) or very little sleep, as she insisted on the most cost-effective flights (aka cheap and long). For the most part, he enjoyed these “Shawn directed activities” but his real passion was music, especially guitars; the man could watch YouTube videos about guitars for hours. He loved playing the guitar and attending live music, whether or not he went with others or by himself. Jeff also loved a good “jam session” so when his friend and neighbor suggested a few years ago that they get a “garage band” together he was all in and Two Chord Junkies was born. He loved getting together with “the band” for Sunday night jams. He was not, however, a fan of performing but, in regular Jeff fashion, when “the band” expanded, changed its name to Driveway Jones and decided they were going to do some “gigs” (primarily in the driveways of the neighborhood but a few at actual establishments) he participated, usually standing near the back of the stage with his head turned away from the audience. He loved the band and the guys and he was really proud and excited when Driveway Jones self-produced an album and put it on Spotify. He was thrilled by the process of going to a studio to record the music.
Jeff was a man with a quiet servant’s heart. He would help anyone who would ask in any way he could and he really was willing (even if he grumped about it behind closed doors). In addition to formal volunteer activities, like serving on Church Council, Ushering at Sunday services and cooking at Oktoberfest, Jeff was always willing to lend a hand whether it was to change a light fixture, install a ceiling fan, hold a ladder, or share his home with someone who needed a place to stay during a difficult time.
Jeff had a 35-year career in the waste management industry and he worked hard for a variety of employers in this field in an effort to support his family. He enjoyed the people that he worked with and he was happy talking to customers, vendors and co-workers but work was just work and he had really looked forward to retirement and he was sad when he found out that his “retirement” was fighting cancer. Jeff did want to leave some general advice to his friends and family: not everything involves money, spending time with everyone and doing things together is more important than anything, do what you love and learn something new, something you would not have thought to do and do it with your family, don’t be afraid to get involved and keep your faith. Finally, he said, put your car on a maintenance program!
A funeral service will be held at Incarnation Lutheran Church, 3005 Devine Street in Columbia Saturday, December 30, 2023 at 12 noon with a visitation beginning at 11:00 a.m. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that friends and family consider a donation to Incarnation Lutheran Church Red Door Fund in memory of Jeffrey DeJames.
South Carolina Cremation Society is assisting the family. Family and friends may sign the online guest book by clicking on the “Tribute Wall” tab above.
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