Portraits of My Friend Commodore Jay Deeds at 93

A Tribute to My Friend Jay

My interest in portrait photography increased several years ago year when I found myself sitting on a deck overlooking Lake St. Clair across from my friend Jay Deeds with whom I share the same surname. Around the time I first started sailing thirty some years ago people often asked me if I was "Jay's boy." As the years wore on the questions changed to "Are you related to Jay?" My usual answer was "not so far as I know, but I could be."

Jay was one of the most unusual characters in the Detroit sailing scene. Just about everybody has a Jay story. Jay set the marks of the DRYA small boat course for more than 30 years in his Lyman lapstrake "Septet." His conversations on the marine radio with the principal race officer about the precise wind direction and appropriate location of the windward mark were legendary among the racers waiting for the starting gun on Saturdays throughout the summer.

On this particular August day in 2008, I asked Jay if he minded if I took a few pictures of him while he was having a few glasses of wine before dinner. When he hesitated, I pursued my goal with "Jay, you're not going to be around all that much longer, and we'll need a few good pictures for your wake!" To which Jay sputtered, "I'll be around long enough to dance on your grave!" or words to that effect. But that only meant that he was flattered that I would want to take his picture. Knowing that Jay still fancied himself a lady's man, I invited several of the best looking ladies nearby to participate in the photo shoot. Anyway, I clicked off around 150 pictures then and the following afternoon of "The Commodore." I hope some of them may provide insight into the secrets of long life. Here they are.

(In case you wondered, Jay was back again at 93 setting the race marks on the DRYA C Course, still sharp as a tack although his back wasn't as straight as it used to be.)

8 Bells for Commodore C. Jay Deeds

The memorial service for past Commodore C. Jay Deeds will be held on Sunday, April 26, 2009, at 2pm at the Tompkins Center, Windmill Pointe Park.

That's a good one!

The commodore's steely gaze.

A secret of longevity.


The kiss.

All smiles.


Not too old to learn to whistle!

Jay is fascinated by the lady's shoe.

You'd better believe it!

Ore boat on Lake St. Clair

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ron 10 years ago

looks like jay is going to get some action!

Arahorn profile image

Arahorn 10 years ago from The Entrace

Seems very happy, good to see.

Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 10 years ago Author

Yes, quite active and happy. He can be a bit cantankerous at times. Thanks for the comment.

nickswife2004 profile image

nickswife2004 10 years ago

I Love your shots, they truly captured the feel of the setting. I Love the shoe shot!

Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 10 years ago Author

Thanks! I enjoyed taking the pictures. Jay is an unforgettable character. I did another on him recently with pictures taken in August. I believe it's entitled Commodore Jay Deeds,l Going Strong at 93.

Com. L. G. Cotter 8 years ago

Over a third of a century ago Don, Bill, and I wintered our sailboats at Emerald City Marina. One evening, having just rigged all three of our boats, we sat on Don's boat talking. They asked if I belonged to a club. I told them that since my wife, Linda, and I had friends at several clubs we were having trouble making a choice. Don simplified matters when he said; "you're joining GPSC, there's a board meeting on Tuesday, be there". Don (Com. Donald G. Boddy) and Bill (Com. William McCourt) had just given me an ultimatum that I couldn't refuse. In the following years we kept Bristol Lady at Windmill Pointe. Being a teacher; I spent my summer days at the marina. My friends were almost all a generation before me. The only persons available during the summer days were a bunch of retired guys and this teacher. Jay was an actual generation before me. His daughter, Linda, and my wife, Linda, grew up as neighbors and classmates together. Many years later (2005) when I went from the Commodores' Steak Roast to the hospital after member, Dr. Peter Bauman and others, snatched me from the grim reaper; my first phone call was from Jay. He was crying. I had never heard him cry before. He said, (explitive) Larry, you scared the hell out of me you're one of my oldest friends and I thought you were gone. For a moment I thought; Jay's a generation before me. Then I realized that from the group of us that spent our days together at the marina; yes, we were the last two left. When I got the news today that Jay had gone to Fiddler's Green I was struck with the still numbing sensation that - now I'm the only one from that group left. Jay and I spent endless hours and days together, and right now I'm left with just the memories of my dear friend. LarryNothing says I love you like flowers! Find a florist near you now.

Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 8 years ago Author

Thanks for your kind comment. Jay was one of a kind. I'll post the funeral arrangements when they are available. Or feel free to post them in a comment.

Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 8 years ago Author

Andrew Morlan has a big blowup of Jay and a CD with a bunch of pictures of him.

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Ralph Deeds 8 years ago Author

Subject: C. Jay Deeds Memorial ServiceNow Hear This - Inquiries are being received concerning Past Commodore C. Jay Deeds Memorial Service. His family has advised that his remains have been cremated and a service will be planned for later this spring when the weather improves.

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rajagiriworld 7 years ago

I like your post. Thanks


Ralph Deeds profile image

Ralph Deeds 7 years ago Author

Thanks for your kind comment!

AEvans profile image

AEvans 7 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

What a wonderful tribute to a wonderful man, many of us certainly hope that we are still here at 93 and for him to still be alert and how his toes is certainly a gift! What a friendship both of you have and I bet you could tell some stories I know he is honored to be your friend. :)

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AEvans 7 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

o.k. now I feel like a Donkey's bum at the vry top I realized he past away this year I am sorry and my deepest sympathies go to you for the loss of a friend but what a tribute to a wonderful man. :)

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