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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

In memory of Jeff Jeske

Christopher Perez
Artistic tribute to Jeff Jeske by Guilfordian Cartoonist, Christopher Perez

Written by Nicole Zelniker, Editor-in-Chief, Guilfordian

On January 23, 2017, Charles A. Dana Professor of English Jeff Jeske passed away in Greensboro, North Carolina. He was 69-years-old.

Jeff advised the Guilfordian for 29 years. Students describe Jeff as a mentor, a role model and a friend, citing his ability to always make students feel comfortable and trusted. Many say he changed their lives, as indicated by his Bruce G. Stewart Award for Excellence in Teaching and his Dick Dyer Award for Excellence in Club Advising.

In addition to the Guilfordian, Jeff taught American literature, American and global cinema and courses on Herman Melville. He was also an accordionist for Die Quakerhosen, the Guilford College oom-pah band.

Some of his favorite authors included Melville and Henry David Thoreau. He has published two books: Storied Words: The Writer’s Vocabulary and Its Origins and The Return of the War Pigs.

We at the Guilfordian will miss Jeff greatly. Community members should feel free to send photos and stories of Jeff to the Guilfordian for publication.

He is survived by his daughters, Colleen Tetsworth and Kiersten Johnson, and their children.



“Teacher Mentor Friend” created by Guilfordian Layout editor, Grace VanFleet
View Comments (11)
More to Discover
About the Contributors
Nicole Zelniker, Editor-in-Chief
English major, Environmental Studies and Communication minors
Nicole loves newspapers, social justice and Harry Potter.
Christopher Perez, Cartoonist
Junior Art and CTIS double major, Japanese minor, Chris aims to make art that can bring a smile to anyone's face. Returning from a study abroad in Japan, he has returned to the Guilfordian, ready to make up for lost time and provide better cartoons than ever.

Comments (11)

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  • K

    Kathy BarneyApr 29, 2017 at 9:16 am

    I knew Jeff as a post-doc at Clemson University. He was still “high” coming down from the end of writing his thesis, getting his doctorate, and starting his career. His stint was short at Clemson, but he had an impact on me I never forgot. Bravo, Jeske. Well done.

  • C

    Christy JohnsonFeb 5, 2017 at 10:12 am

    Jeff was among one of the first professors I had when I attended Guilford in 2004. I was entering school after a long hiatus, undergoing a painful divorce and loss of a child. Jeff helped me to use those experiences to delve into a world of literature and writing. He challenged me to think outside the box. He wanted me to see literature as the art it was, not just words on a page. The experiences in life that we all have can be developed into endless stories. Jeff pushed me to keep going even when I wanted to throw in the towel. When he gave me a C on a paper, I found out why and kept persisting academically until I could get to an A level. I loved to read before I came to Guilford. Jeff brought a new awareness to literary pieces that I personally hadn’t delved into before. I’m grateful for having had his support because without instructors like him, I never would have obtained my degree. To this day, I now read pieces that I wouldn’t have picked up otherwise. Jeff will be sorely missed by the Guilford Community, his family, friends, colleagues and former students. I hate the fact that new students won’t have the privilege of learning from him but I know others there at Guilford will continue his legacy and for that, I’m truly grateful.

  • K

    Kyle WestJan 25, 2017 at 11:39 am

    One parting memory of Jeff Jeske for those who worked with him at the Guilfordian:
    So, in newspaper layout it is standard to use Latin as placeholder text when designing page layouts; you just copy & paste a standard sentence in Latin until you reach the specific story’s word-count, and then make it fit to the space available. Latin is used because it looks so foreign to most English speakers, and thus is easily recognizable when it is not replaced with the story’s actual text.

    During the course of my tenure as the Guilfordian’s Layout Editor (’05-’06) I had to essentially redesign the layout standards & practices from scratch (that’s a wholly different story entirely), and one week I decided to have a little fun with the placeholder text. At the time, Kent Chabotar was the College’s President, and my friends and I had a bit of fun with playing around with pronunciations of his last name – Chabotar is just too good of a name, after all. One popular, and lasting, version was “Chaba Daba Doobar” (pronounced Sh-abba Dab-ba Doo-Bar); I think we may have been watching some Scooby Doo reruns at the time, but nonetheless, it caught on and eventually even Kent Chabotar had heard it.

    Well, I decided I was sick of looking at Latin placeholder text, and changed the template to “Chaba Daba Doobar.” I also changed the template for writer’s bylines to the same thing. That week, we printed a 22 page issue, almost double what we averaged – I had a lot of articles to fit in, and I almost didn’t finish the layout in time for it to make it to the printers. After working all night, I sent the final copies to the printer at 10:59 Thursday morning, and ran off to make it to my first class of the day.

    With Friday comes the paper I’d just finished laying out, and well, let’s just say Jeff did not find it hilarious at all that someone named Chaba Daba Doobar wrote more than half of the stories in that edition. Or that one of the above-the-fold stories was just three columns of Chaba Daba Doobar ad nausea.

    • A

      adviserJan 25, 2017 at 11:49 am

      Love the story. Thank you for sharing!

  • I

    Ilari PassJan 24, 2017 at 7:10 pm

    My journey at Guilford College began the spring of 2012. The summer of 2013 was a different story when I had taken the course, Cult Movies, taught by Jeff Jeske and then World Cinema the following summer. That was truly when I met the world. There are simply no words that can do any justice to express how much Jeff meant and “still” means to me. The world will be a lot colder without Jeff’s warmth in it. God, I miss him so much…

    • A

      adviserJan 25, 2017 at 11:48 am

      Thank you for your kind words.

  • L

    Laura DevinskyJan 24, 2017 at 4:47 pm

    I was never as close with Jeff Jeske as some of my fellow Guilfordians were. But he made the greatest impact on me my second year at Guilford – helping to nurture the love of writing that had slowly begun to grow. I had written an op-ed piece in 2011 that got an incredible amount of hatred spewed at me in person, online, and in the form of a letter-to-the-editor. It was thoughtfully done (and I’m sure if I rewrote it now, it would be a different perspective), but Jeff heard through the grapevine of all this and reached out. The subject line simply read “are you okay?” and I remember thinking before opening it “Yeah… did someone say I’m sick or broke a leg?” But upon opening it, it was a heart felt check-in, concerned for my well-being and mental state.

    I took it all with a grain of salt, because it was Guilford after all, with individuals with stronger opinions than weights I could lift. But after my reply to him, he said something that I sincerely appreciated hearing as a 19-year-old: “I’m really impressed by your response to all this–especially what you express in the second-to-last paragraph. You show uncommon maturity.”

    All it takes is a sentence. All it takes is a note. Thank you Jeff for teaching with such passion, and for being an incredible mentor and friend to myself and so many others. And for writing a single sentence that cheered up a rather down-in-the-dumps 19-year-old.

    • A

      adviserJan 25, 2017 at 11:47 am

      Thank you for sharing!

  • E

    Ellen NicholasJan 24, 2017 at 3:55 pm

    Jeff means so much to me, and I know I’m far from alone in that. He is without a doubt one of the most influential people in my life. Jeff helped me be a leader even though I was extremely reluctant to do so. He made me a better writer, a better editor, and a better person. It sounds corny, but he believed in me like no one else ever really has. I never knew how to tell him how much he truly meant to me without embarrassing him. He was unfailingly humble and always insisted that it was us, the writers and staff, that made The Guilfordian great, not him. His gentle power and quiet, consistent integrity made such an impact on everyone who crossed his path. It’s never been easy for me to bond with my teachers and authority figures, but I knew Jeff was special after my first class with him. I’m so grateful to everything he gave me, Guilford, and the world. I always told him when I got good news, and hearing him say how proud he was of me was one of the best feelings in the world. Kind, wise, brilliant, open minded but firm in his convictions, a true friend. I aspire to be like Jeff, and I know he’d forgive me for not proofreading this comment. I love you Jeff. Thank you so much. Friends for life.

    • J

      Janet StarmerJan 25, 2017 at 11:27 am

      Holding you in the light, Ellen

    • A

      adviserJan 25, 2017 at 11:46 am

      Thank you for sharing your kind words.