· Scouting, Strength for Service

In Memoriam ––Jim Jeffery

LONG BEACH, Calif. –– Jim Jeffery, 74, a retired captain in the Los Angeles Fire Department, an advocate of the Strength for Service ministry, and a tireless Scout leader, died in July, after a short battle with cancer

Jim retired from the Los Angeles Fire Department in 1987 and he later became the assistant fire chief with the California Office of Emergency Services. He retired from that position in 1998.

Strength for Service advocate

Upon his retirement, Jim took an active role in providing copies of Strength for Service to God and Community to fire fighters and police officers in the Long Beach area.

Jim served as member of the SFS Advisory Committee and he was a charter member of the Strength for Service Society, a group that promises to remember the ministry through a planned gift.

“Like most first responders, I have Post-Traumatic-Stress Disorder,” said Jim. “Most military do also. Spirituality is the primary tool I use to combat PTSD. Strength for Service is one of the best tools I use to stay spiritually fit.”

Jim not only took SFS books to fire fighters and police officers, he also personally handed copies to patients at a VA hospital in Long Beach.

“Jim sat with us every year at the Duty to God Breakfast during the national BSA National Meeting,” said Larry Coppock, executive director of Strength for Service, Inc. “He co-sponsored SFS Scout edition devotionals for this meeting on two separate occasions. He was an ardent supporter of scouting and Strength for Service. He was a great man and will be missed.”

Veteran Scout leader

Jim’s lifelong love affair with scouting started in 1952 when he joined a Cub Scout pack in Long Beach.  He became an Eagle Scout in 1958 at age 14.

At a recognition dinner honoring new Eagle Scouts in 2009, Jim told the youths how to wear their hard-earned badges: “Wear it humbly over your heart, not on your sleeve, and put back into scouting as much as you have received.”

In 2010, Jeffery earned his 50-year Scout Veteran’s pin and was elected president of the Long Beach Area Council. He became the second longest-serving president in council history.

“Not a day goes by in my life that I don’t use something Jim taught me, like how to survive in adversity and how to treat people with respect,” Brian McCall, executive board chairman of Long Beach Search & Rescue Explorer Post 279, the nation’s oldest Explorer Post.

“Brian, 59, said he was “a skinny little redheaded kid” when he met Jim in 1974. He became a major influence on Brian’s life, he said, for years to come.

“There are lots of men and women, many of them in careers with police and fire departments all over southern California and beyond, who think of Jim as a second father,” said Paul Muehlebach, Long Beach Area Council Historian for the Boy Scouts of America. “We lost one of the good guys.”

Jim received myriad scouting honors, including the prestigious Silver Beaver Award, the William H. Spurgeon III Award, the Winthrop Rockefeller Award and the Distinguished Award of Merit.

Survivors include his wife, Cheryl, and children, David, a carpenter; Jake, a teacher in Long Beach; and Brooke Rydstron, a teacher in Bend, Oregon.


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