G. Niblock on the L41 TipSUP Noserider. Photo: J. Chandler

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Jeff Towle 1944-2009 At Home In Glory

My good friend and pastor, Jeff Towle, died suddenly last Sunday. He had a massive heart attack at 1AM, and never recovered from the emergency surgery which was a last ditch effort to save his life.

Jeff, his wife Paula, my wife Mariposa and I were close friends for 20 years. Our friendship was bonded almost immediately because of our love for music. We both played guitar and sang, only he was the real musician with a talent for composing, arranging and writing that could have been professional had he chosen that path. But he chose another, the path of service to others through his faith in Jesus Christ.

He taught English and Shakespeare at Cabrillo College for over 30 years. He was a writer and poet, having published two books of poetry. He was only ordained as an Anglican minister 15 years ago. His life was a beautiful blending of literature, the arts, passion for living, spiritual understanding, compassion for others, love for family and wisdom. He more than anyone I knew followed Jesus' two commandments to love God, and love one another. He would never say that it was him, i.e. Jeff, who could do this. He would say, "I'm too selfish." Rather, it was the power of the love of Christ through the Holy Spirit that empowered Jeff to love others. He would probably let me say that about him.

He pastored a small congregation for 10 years. My wife and I jumped at the chance to join him when he asked if we would serve in the music ministry. It was always a privilege to play and sing with him...just to be around him. I know that being with him made me a better person in every way, from the sharpening of my intellect, to my understanding of literature and Holy scripture, to my enhanced grasp of music, harmonies, singing and the craft of guitar playing, and to the important lifelong work of learning patience and practicing tolerance and true loving empathy for all people regardless of status, position or life situation.

At Jeff's memorial service today there will be lot's of stuff going on that he would have liked. A confirmed "folkie," lots of us will be presenting songs as individuals and sing-alongs. (If there was one thing Jeff liked it was "inclusiveness." Before that word was current Jeff would have just said "hootenanny.") Mariposa and I will be playing Julie Miller's All My Tears (Be Washed Away), which is a song that almost perfectly represents our faith lyrically. I hope the arrangement that I've made portrays emotionally how much we will miss our friend, leader and pastor.

Farewell for now my Brother, I will join you on the other side when my time is come.

Love Always,


  1. Our greatest sympathies and condolences to Paula, yourself, Mariposa, and all your friends, family, and congregation. We hadn't seen Jeff and Paula in about ten years, since we all worshipped together at their previous church, Christ the King, in Campbell. We enjoyed both Jeff and Paula so much, and the amazing worship music they provided there! Jeff would also preach and teach, and he was very gifted.
    We regret having not seen them since they started their new church, as everyone has been so busy. We especially offer our sympathy, prayers, and condolences to Paula who has lost her loving life's partner. They were such a beautiful couple and so joyous in serving the Lord together. We will miss Jeff very much, even as we've missed both of them all these years. We hope to connect with Paula soon, in person.
    With our love and condolences to all--Richard and Kristin Dickerson, Morgan Hill, CA

  2. I was very saddened to find out that Jeff had died. He and I shared a house in the late 1970's in Aptos. He was a truly nice guy, blazing smart, with a beautiful voice. One of my wonderful memories is of him serenading my future wife Barb with a Kenny Rankin song.

    I always really admired Jeff for his perspectives on things and his never failing kindness.

    Godspeed, friend. If I am ever blessed to find heaven, I am sure that you will be there.

    With sympathy,

    Brian McMurdo
    Valley Center, San Diego County, CA

  3. I had Mr. Towle for one semester at Cabrillo and he was awesome. Me and my buddy were super bummed to hear the news.

  4. I was just told of Jeff's passing today, and I am shocked and saddened to hear the news. I had Jeff for english a year ago, and he was one of the best teachers I have had. He seemed like a truly nice man and he was a wonderful teacher who believed in his students.

    With sympathy,
    Sara D.
    Scotts Valley, Ca

  5. When I think of Jeff, I think of this song,

    Amazing love, I know its true, it's my joy to honor you in all I do, I honor you in all I do.

    It was my sheer pleasure to have counted Jeff as a colleague and wonderful friend at Cabrillo College. He was truly a gentle example and giant of the Faith. Jeff always showered love and acceptance on me and I am sure that he did so with each person who came his way.

    Jeff, I will miss you, but only
    until our spirits are re-united,
    Robert Diller
    Soquel, Ca