Younger brother of Jerry Ceis, Tim Ceis, spoke at the memorial for his brother at the Alki Bathhouse on Feb. 2. CLICK THE PHOTO ABOVE TO SEE MORE OR SEE THE GALLERY BELOW THE STORY.
SLIDESHOW: Family and friends say farewell to Jerry Ceis
For the second, and not the last, memorial for West Seattle's Jerry Ceis, family and friends gathered at the Alki Bathhouse on Saturday Feb. 2 to recall memories and celebrate the life of a man everyone agreed was a free spirit and someone who went his own way.
Ceis died Jan 9 following an illness.
He was a Seafair Pirate, a sailor, and according to everyone who spoke he was a generous, gregarious, and kind man whose gruff exterior was a cover for a tender heart.
Led by John York, Jerry's uncle, the memorial, with about 70 people in attendance, began with a slideshow of photos from Jerry's life. As they were displayed, poems recorded by Jerry for an album of poetry he made called "Ceis Stories" was played as well. He read the Robert W. Service classic, "The Shooting of Dan McGrew" and Rudyard Kipling's "Gunga Din" on the recording.
Two of his friends at the service spoke to the West Seattle Herald and offered their memories. Cindy Wolf Casey said, "He was a really good guy, and really really tender hearted. A lot of people didn't know that side of Jerry. I remember all the fun and all the places we went. He said he hated kids and dogs and he didn't. He loved them both."
Bill Howard said, "We were in Alaska on the boat and we were crabbing. We brought the boat into some shallow water picking up crab pots and we were backing out and one of the guys throws a crab pot off the stern which got caught in the propellers. 42 degree water, Jerry jumps over, dives down and untangles the line. He comes back up and he's BLUE. He spent the next hour in a hot shower. After that I made a rule. I don't leave port without Jerry."
Bill Taylor a retired Seattle Police officer and also a Seafair Pirate spoke about Jerry saying he was, "inspirational to a lot of people." He noted that the previous weekend at the Chelan Cafe an event to honor Jerry filled the restaurant to standing room only. Also speaking at the event was Dan Sullivan who concluded his remarks by saying, "Beyond the legend and beyond the barstool all I ever saw was pure heart."
Tim Ceis, his younger brother thanked those in attendance and said his brother had lived, "a big life."
He recounted the nature of his relationship with Jerry as they grew up, recalling the standard treatment little brothers get (there was a 7 year age difference) but then as they got older how he came to look up to him. "He was good looking, popular, smart and athletic and doing great things." But while earlier he was not of much interest to Jerry, "suddenly he decided I might have some value and took an interest in me. We started building his boat. He taught me how to sail. Then he showed me how to scuba dive. Then he showed me how to start working around boats, understand boats. Then the best thing of all started to happen. He started taking me along on his adventures. I remember the first one. I was fifteen years old and we went up to Desolation Sound to pick up a boat. It was a three day delivery that took us ten to eleven days," he said chuckling. "We ran out of money. I had $20 left and he took it away from me," which made the crowd laugh. "It was also a place I learned to walk on a log boom. He taught me how. The secret is, don't be last. By the time Jerry and Mike got past them they were so slippery I fell in twice." On another trip they took they were sailing back from Hawaii and Tim said he learned to never let Jerry be in charge of the music. "For 17 days we listened to one tape. Kris Kristofferson that Jerry said was, "the greatest singer songwriter that ever was!" On another trip they were off the coast of San Clemente Island and foundering with an engine that wouldn't work.
"That's when I learned something about courage," Tim said, "because he got us out of that and I'll never forget that."
"Jerry was just a great big brother," said Tim. "He was a great guy to be around and we had great times. There was a time too that I realized I had to be someone other than Jerry's little brother so I went my own way. We drifted apart. But in the end we came back together again. I was glad I got that opportunity. It gave me a chance too to think about Jerry, to think about what I loved most about him. One of Jerry's favorite stories in life was Peter Pan. Everybody always thought it was about Captain Hook. But it was really about Peter Pan, because Jerry was Peter Pan. Because in Neverland you get to have adventures every day and you never have to do what you don't want to do. That's how Jerry was. That's why we all loved him and liked to be with him. He was a great big brother and I loved him dearly and I'll miss him."
A private wake for Jerry Ceis will be held in the next two weeks.
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