Jerome J. Mischel, Jr (Jay): April 12, 1960 – January 31, 2018

My brother Jay passed away this afternoon, after a year-long fight with sarcoma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer. He was 57 years old.

Jay was the second of five children, and the oldest boy; 18 months older than I. As children, we were pretty much inseparable. At least that’s how I remember it. My fondest memories of early childhood include him. We began to drift apart when I was nine or ten, about the time he started going to junior high school. Although he did look out for me when we went on Boy Scout camping trips together. I went off to military school a few years later, and we didn’t see much of each other after that. We worked together with my dad for a few years in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but went our separate ways again after Dad died.

From his early teens on, Jay was something of a rebel. He had his own idea of what made a happy and successful life, and it was decidedly different from what Dad had in mind. Early on, he tried to fit in to conventional expectations. After graduating from St. John’s Military School, he worked for a few years and then enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, where he served for four years. Following his stint in the Corps, he went to work with Dad, building and operating small motels in Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico. But his heart really wasn’t in it. Jay’s passion was music, and when Dad died he began to follow that passion.

Jay lived for 25 years in the Branson, MO and Eureka Springs, AR areas, working sound and lights for shows, and working at various other businesses. He struggled financially at times, but he enjoyed his life. Jay was a good man who kept mostly to himself, but his friends could count on him for help whenever they needed it. He was a true fan of music, a talented lights and sound man, and a singer/songwriter. We kept in touch, but weren’t especially close. More my loss than his, I think.

Jay struggled with medical issues: a heart attack and bypass surgery when he was 43, gallbladder surgery a few years later, and a motorcycle accident that fractured his pelvis and permanently damaged one foot. A year ago he began having trouble with his leg, and in May the doctors discovered the sarcoma. Two surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation were unsuccessful in eliminating the cancer, and in December it became clear that he had little time left. Several of us visited him at Christmas as well as last weekend. Mom was there for over a month. Our sister was with him at the end.

Jay asked that there be a private family service, and that if you want to remember him, make a donation to your favorite charity, “or just be good to each other.”

His last words to me, as I was leaving Tuesday evening, were “See you on the flip side, bro.” Ditto, my friend. We miss you.

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