Jeff Jurena passed away Sunday, March 28, 2021, at the Mercy Gilbert Medical Center, Gilbert, AZ, at age 57. He was lovingly surrounded by his wife, Vickie, as well as his parents, siblings, uncle, and nieces.
He was born in Atlanta, GA, on January 20, 1964, and raised in Greendale, WI. A natural athlete, Jeff excelled in tennis, football, volleyball, and basketball. He loved bowling, had four 300 games and carried a 210-220 USBC average. But his true love was golfing, where he was a 6-handicap golfer and was able to play many courses around the United States. He was also a prolific writer, and in his youth, was a sports reporter for at least 16 community newspapers and also worked for Publisher Roy Reiman.
After surviving Hodgkin’s Disease early in his adulthood, Jeff graduated from Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI, and began his engineering career at Crane Engineering in Appleton, WI. This is where he met and married the love of his life, Vickie “Pudd” Gardner. He later joined Kimberly Clark (K-C) in Neenah, WI, in January, 1991.
He worked and traveled to many K-C locations around the U.S. as well as internationally. He worked at mills in Loudon, TN, Beech Island, SC, as well as Fullerton, CA, and in 2003, relocated back to Neenah, WI, to be closer to family. Family was everything to Jeff. After early retirement, Jeff and Vickie moved to Queen Creek, AZ, just outside of Phoenix in the summer of 2019. Even then, he continued to work as a consultant doing Mechanical and Process Engineering, both true vocational passions of his.
Jeff touched so many lives with his special and caring connections for everyone he interacted with. He made everyone feel appreciated, special, and truly seen. For one year on his Facebook page, Jeff wrote a daily Thankfulness Challenge which inspired many of his FB friends to look for and appreciate the beauty of life, relationships, the Oxford comma, and even childhood breakfast cereals. Jeff also had a wicked smart mind, sharp wit, and an easy laugh, all of which endeared him to so many people.
After being diagnosed with Stage IV Metastatic Melanoma in January, 2021, Jeff started a Caring Bridge page with his thoughts and affirmations. His impact on those reading his affirmations were profound—his character even became a centerpiece for a sermon given by one of his Thankfulness Challenge readers.
Jeff loved his life and is survived by his wife of 31 years, Vickie Jurena; his parents, Judy and Wayne Tanaka; his sister, Erin King and wife, Cari Taylor; his brother, David, and wife, Jill; and his nieces: Mackenzie King, Reese Parish, and Haley and Anna Jurena; his Uncle Bill Hintz and wife, Joan, and their children, Katie (Adam) Gleisner, Jon (Mary) Hintz, and Matt (Rachel) Hintz; his Uncle Bob Hintz, and his children, Chris (Patti) Hintz and Todd (Christina) Hintz. His loss will also be felt by a multitude of friends and colleagues around the globe.
A celebration of Jeff’s life will be held at a later date in Appleton, WI, and hopefully many of you will be able to attend. We will publish more information on this website. Please keep checking back frequently.
Melanoma is a vicious disease and we hope no other families have to face this tragedy. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to Cedars-Sinai in memory of Jeff Jurena and in support of the Melanoma Education Fund. Checks can be mailed to:
ATTN: Laura Asok
8700 Beverly Blvd. Suite 2416
Los Angeles, CA 90048
*Please note “In memory of Jeff Jurena for Melanoma Fund” in the memo line.