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Community Reaction: Zaslow Was Mentor, Amazing Writer, Committed to Family

When news broke at about 5 p.m. Friday that the Marple Newtown graduate and best-selling author from West Bloomfield, MI, died earlier that morning, locals went online to share their thoughts.

WEST BLOOMFIELD, MI–Jeffrey Zaslow became an icon in journalism by writing for the Wall Street Journal and smashing New York Times best-seller records, but in Metro Detroit, MI, he was more than that.

When news broke about 5 p.m. Friday that the earlier that morning, media sources including Patch could barely keep with the pace of those who shared their memories and impact of the 53-year-old married father of three.

Zaslow was mourned by Lynne Golodner, who wrote in an email that she went to Zaslow many times throughout their 13-year friendship with personal and professional quandaries. 

"I took his Last Lecture book with me to Mexico, read it in one day and immediately knew what I needed to do in life. It was because of Jeff’s guidance, kindness and friendship over so many years that I continued to have the courage to follow my passion. His writing is some of the finest available today," said Golodner, who owns Your People, a marketing firm based in Southfield.

Golodner commented specifically about Zaslow's own marriage and love for wife, Sherry Margolis: "I’ve always marveled at how both Jeff and Sherry, superstars in their own right, represent down to earth, committed to community, generous people. And as someone with a failed first marriage, I admired their commitment to each other and the love you could see in their eyes, after decades of being together. I smiled when I read his love for her in his latest book."

Others took to Facebook, where recent images of Zaslow's Jan. 30 appearance at the could be found on its Facebook page. Several readers commented on West Bloomfield Patch's Facebook page with shock and sadness.

  • Nancy Perkins: Oh my gosh, that's unbelievable!
  • Camille Maniscalco-Dery: sincere condolences to Sherry Margolis and their three lovely daughters...very sad indeed..
  • Venus Abrahim: I wish I would have be able to hear him speak at the library 2 weeks ago. Now I'll never have the chance. He seemed like a wonderful man as well as writer.
  • Holly Shreve Gilbert: From myself and Garry, and from OU Journalism, condolences to Jeff Zaslow's many friends and family. This warm, generous and gifted man touched so many lives, including ours.
  • Devon Weinman: ... the best next-door neighbor anyone could ever ask for.

Still others took to Twitter, where condolences from all across the world came in rapidly from fans, friends and co-workers.

  • @DeanGreve: a GREAT man, father & husband. My heart goes out to Sherry & the girls
  • @RobbieSherwood: Met him in college. Funny, huge influence. 
  • Susan Linch (@excdinglyrandom): Sending our heartfelt condolences to the family of Jeff Zaslow. He will be missed. His humor was a gift to all of us & since 7th gr for me.
  • @lakecountydem: I only knew Zaslow as an advice columnist who seemed to genuinely care about folks. Sorry to lose one of the nice ones.
  • Michael Stone (@stoney16): Knew Jeff Zaslow since kindergarten. Heart aches for Sherry and the girls.The guy had no ego which is so rare in the biz. RIP Zas.

The shock waves of Zaslow's death were felt throughout Metro Detroit and beyond. Zaslow's impact on people through his longtime column in the Wall Street Journal, as well as his books, prompted a groundswell of reaction:

Fox 2 Detroit's coverage included this video, which quotes Detroit News columnist, friend of Zaslow and his wife, Sherry Margolis, Neal Rubin, who said: "For most of us I suppose there's sort of a limited immortality – that people who love you will never forget you. For Jeff, that's expanded my millions. Which is an amazing legacy to leave."

Some of the other stories about Zaslow:

Wall Street Journal:  "Journal colleagues (in the Detroit office where he worked) recalled that while working on columns and books, Mr. Zaslow would collect voluminous notes that he organized in piles that spilled off his desk, sat in uneven rows around his chair and cluttered an empty cubicle adjacent to his. When he took his work home at night, he packed his notes into a wheeled carry-on suitcase." Some of Zaslow's memorable columns republished.

The Detroit News: "He's supremely talented, and yet he's the most humble person you could ever meet," said Neal Boudette, Detroit bureau chief of the Wall Street Journal. "He has this serenity about him, and on top of that he had a unique gift for listening to other people and understanding their hopes, fears and thoughts and translating their words."

Zaslow is survived by wife, WJBK-TV/Channel 2 newscaster Sherry Margolis, and three daughters, Jordan, Alex and Eden. Zaslow's parents still reside in Marple Township. His mother, Naomi, was the first public relations officer for the Marple Newtown School District.

danny February 14, 2012 at 04:20 AM
QUESTION FROM A READER FAR AWAY: tim, has anyone considered why on Earth Jeff, a top selling bestselling author with huge media clout, he could do an interview with your paper and get a front page story about THE MAGIC ROOM, why on Earth was he driving solo in a snowstorm on a country road in the dead of winter returning home from a book signing the night beefore for 40 -- merely 40! -- people at a small bookstore on a Thursday night? Where were his PR people? What were they thinking? This freak accident cannot be explained in human terms, but did it HAVE TO TAKE PLACE? Was it preventable? Is there anything others can learn from this ahout priorities and taking risks and TRAVEL? Maybe we should all stay home more? Just asking.

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