After Jeff Day, 59, died Wednesday and was found in his front yard near Broadway Avenue, his family and friends gathered, told stories, looked at old photos and expressed to each other how grateful they are to have known him.
Justin Day, Jeff’s eldest son, who now lives in Meridian, recalls that since his childhood he admired his father’s warmth and outgoing behavior.
“We couldn’t go anywhere in town without someone knowing him,”said Justin, who lives in Meridian. People would stop Jeff regularly just to say “hi” and check in, he said.
That was, in part, because Jeff was a Boise man through and through. He loved the outdoors, skiing, going to Alive After Five and watching Boise State football.
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“He represented what Boise is all about,” Justin said.
Jeff Day grew up in a house on Longmont Avenue next door to his most recent home, which previously had belonged to his aunt. Since childhood he got attention for his kindness and joyful attitude.
In the June 14, 1968 edition of the Idaho Statesman, young Jeff was featured in a photo, holding a somewhat disgruntled-looking magpie that he had rescued and named Magie.
According to the photo caption, “Jeff found the bird with an injured leg. He put on the splint and then kept the magpie until it healed. When he released it, the bird would not leave. Jeff feeds Magie hamburger. Both the family cat and dog keep a respectful distance.”
Jeff had worked as a hair stylist since the 1980s, building strong relationships with customers to the point that they brought their children — and their children’s children — to him. He wanted to help people feel beautiful inside and out, Justin said.
He also volunteered his talents. He would style hair for people at the Women’s and Children’s Alliance, and if someone lost their job, he’d offer them a free haircut, Justin said.
He did it because he cared about his community, but also because he just loved making friends, Justin said.
“He just wasn’t shy to start a conversation,” he said. “He loved everyone. He was accepting of everyone.”
Jeff’s body was found in his front yard on Longmont by a passerby Monday morning. Police said there was no sign of foul play, but a cause of death has not been determined pending test results.
Jeff had five children — Justin, Jill Ashby, Nick Day, Christian Busnardo and Joseph Grey — and all stayed in the Treasure Valley area, Justin said.
The family plans to host a celebration of Jeff’s life, but hadn’t ironed out all the details by Friday. They will announce the specifics over Facebook, Justin said.
Justin said the family doesn’t need financial help, but if anyone wants to honor Jeff, they donate to Bogus Basin ski programs, since Jeff was active in the ski club.
Jeff’s children have been touched by the loving response from friends and customers who shared their shock, grief and memories on social media.
“It's been really nice to look through pictures and read all those Facebook posts,” Justin said. “It really touched our hearts.”
But he’s not surprised by the outpouring.
“He had a contagious laugh and was definitely a life force. He had a presence,” Justin said. “He lived a big life and we will all miss him big time. It’s a big void.”