On January 6, 1978, Jeremy Levi Gurtner was born to his loving parents, Wynona, and Rolf Gurtner. His dad immediately left the hospital to go to Emmanuel Temple Church to announce the birth of “Heddemiah” (Jeremiah) to the Emmanuel Temple congregation during Sunday morning service! Nestled between his older and younger sisters, Sylvia, and Tia, and like them, Jeremy was the church’s baby. The nieces often battled over whose baby he was. Donna won out and she and Ann (Lady Wells) bestowed the sobriquet of “Mister” on him and continued to reference him by that moniker to this day! Among the many things he was known for as a baby was nonstop kicking and screaming for no reason and was one of many traits he shared with his partner, cousin, and fellow screamer Emanuel, dubbed by Eld. Charles Parker as “Ten Speed and Brown Shoe” based on the tv show characters who perpetrated similar tandem antics they perpetrated at home and at church, including, but not limited to, racing down the aisles trying to reach their moms when the choir was marching in or singing, or rolling and hiding under the pews during church service or the shut-ins. He was also known for throwing up, one of many traits he shared with his cousin Terry, and of which no one was immune, from his godmother Aunt Sue, and Aunt Denise, to Mo. Mattie Wells. Aside from casting up their accounts on a regular basis, he and Terry also shared their love for music. As they got older, this passion extended his “brothers in arms” and the Cory’s. At any given time, they could be found in home studios, basements, garages, or wherever they could construct a space, making beats, throwing lyrics, (not Lyric), and laying down tracks, all hoping to be the next Tupac! They all experienced a modicum of success in this genre later in life, and especially Cousin Dani-GC Golden Child.
One of many, and sometimes not pleasant passions that united he and his cousin Samuel, was deftly maneuvering the socks, scratches, and railings from baby sister and loving nemesis Tia, because they knew they could not retaliate! At age five, Jeremy asked momma to tell Tia to stop “ajjerjating” (aggravating) him. Samuel tried to retaliate once and has paid for it ever since, as he still carries the guilt of “ajjerjating” her scoliosis when they were in middle school!
Jeremy’s talent as a” jack of all trades, expert of most” was evident at an early age. He emulated and mirrored his dad’s talent for art, building and constructing anything, eating, inhaling a full plate of food in 30 seconds or less, and later, channeling and displaying his skills as a talented chef. He also channeled the skill of jumping off porches, beds, cars…or anything that always elicited a heart-stopping reaction from mom. By age 8, he was able to disassemble a heavy wooden bunkbed with a wrench in under 30 minutes and cut the lawn better than most kids his age and older. One of his favorite pastimes was helping his sisters smuggle Emanuel from Aunt Mac’s, all while hiding him under their feet and coats in the back seat, fighting to muffle giggles and evidence of their conspiracy, until they got home, where the phone was ringing off the hook, with Aunt Mac fuming and shouting, “is Emanuel there?”. Their mission was accomplished because mom was not taking him back home, and Mac wasn’t coming to pick him up! He was always an industrious child and would clean up his room without being asked, always finishing his chores before asking to go somewhere…his sisters…not so much! In fact, he would help them with their chores if they were angling for the triangle approach to do something or go somewhere, particularly if the odds were not in their favor. He would also help his cousins and friends this way on more than a few occasions. He continued helping friends, family, and/or strangers throughout his life. It was just his way.
With sisters, Sylvia, Tia, and Corrine, Jeremy spent many summers in Puerto Rico with their dad, enjoying childhood adventures and experiences that shaped his young life. One of which was learning to swim on the back of Grandma Yda in the Caribbean Ocean during one of her visits from Switzerland. He loved all water sports and his dare-devil acrobatics often raised moms blood pressure to unhealthy levels!
Jeremy was a talented scholar and athlete, playing his favorite sports, basketball, and running track at Grant. He played first-year football for three weeks, until he got a scratch on his chin from his helmet during practice, while also realizing he had to play in the cold and rain sometimes. That was the end of that, along with his NFL aspirations. Jeremy maintained at least a 3.5 grade point average during high school. Well, except that one term he changed his Spanish teachers D grade to a B by adding the most delightful and artful loop to the top of it, because he had been skipping class while nursing his wounded heart because the girl, he liked broke his tender, 15-year-old heart! And he did have a big, wide, tender servant’s heart, that he opened to and shared with everyone he loved. He had a big smile that matched that big heart, and always lit up the room when or wherever he entered.
He spent two years in Tuolumne, California with his dad, stepmom, Natasha and brothers, Art and Rolfie, excelling in basketball his sophomore and senior years. After graduating from Summerville High school, he attended Humboldt State University, with plans of becoming an airline pilot. He had also earned credits in barbering and cosmetology. He later attended Grossmont and Portland Community Colleges in San Diego and Portland. He eventually concentrated on food service and cooking, where his food looked as beautiful as it tasted, and was often requested at all family gatherings. He was particularly famous for his peach cobbler, wings, pasta, and salmon! He worked at Renaissance Market, and later at Seeznin’s Sports Bar and Lounge, alongside his cousins Andre, and owner Samuel Thompson. They were cussed out on a regular basis for any and most things about “his kitchen”, and Sam would often scratch his head and mumble under his breath whose name was listed under “proprietor”, as he and the other workers got out of his way!
Among Jeremy’s myriad of talents, he was a skilled mechanic. His mentor being “granddaddy” Jackson who affectionately dubbed him “deva hoss.” He continued honing his skills on the “odor home, motorhome” and “fumigail” (ask a family member if you are not acquainted with them). At any given time, he could be found fixing someone’s tires, starter, brakes, bikes, or anything on a car (as the cousins can attest during a family road trip), or anything for that matter. He was generous to a fault with his time, talent, and skills, not only with his family and friends, but with whoever needed him, often without compensation. Another one of his superior talents was barbering. He began developing his skills watching his big cousin “Kennyman” and Rogie cut hair, after explaining to mom at the age of 13, that he was too old for “mom haircuts” and needed a professional now. He learned to not only cut hair, but perfected his skills by trial and error, using his brothers, cousins, as friends as his loyal guinea pigs. His services were soon in frequent demand from family and friends alike, and of which, more often than not, he provided free of charge. This is yet another small example of his big heart, as all who knew him can attest. It was just his way.
Although Jeremy had examples and templates to guide his learning, he was primarily self-taught. Not only did he learn what he needed and wanted to know, he excelled and increased in that skill and knowledge in whatever it may have been. To simply say he was smart, is the understatement of the century. Of his many passions and talents, the love of and for his family and friends was his life’s blood! He loved his momma! He loved his siblings! He loved his cousins like brothers. He loved his aunties. He loved his friends like brothers. He loved his church family, especially Bishop AA, Bishop CT, and Joe Wells! He loved his extended family. He loved his uncles, who he could talk to when he needed them. He loved his grandmas and grandpas; he loved his nieces and nephews. He had a special relationship with each of you, beginning with his firstborn niece, Lyric, where he could be found reading to her, and sometimes rapping to her incessantly, to the point of her asking her mom to “tell Uncle Jeremy to stop rapping to me!” And y’all know when he had a captive audience, that could be all day.
If you loved Jeremy’s family, he loved you! But first and foremost, HE LOVED HIS BABIES. ALL OF YOU! Andrew, Jadyn, Jaysin, and Jemma. You all held a special place in his heart, and he wanted to make sure you and EVERYONE knew it! Know this… there was nothing that fueled his passion more than being with his babies. And when you are alone with the memories of your dad, please know this; the life that dad was most recently living reflected on his struggles. That was not the dad that you once had, nor the dad that he would want you to remember. Remember the hard working and fun-loving man who was happiest when he was with you, and the family unit was intact. Remember the dad that could fix any problem, be bicycles, toys, or cars. The dad that fed you gourmet dinners that most all of us would envy. Remember that he tried but ran out of time to fix that hole in his heart that was you. But know that he wanted you whole and together. Remember the love and laughter. The hugs. The words of wisdom, and the smile that lit up his face and heart when he laid eyes on you. Cherish those memories, and he will remain in your hearts, minds, and spirits always. And to all the rest of us who LOVE him, know that he would want you to carry these same sentiments with you. All his friendships and relationships were as unique and special to him as he was us. That was just his way.
Drawing from the wellspring of thoughts and words from missives, essays, rap lyrics, love letters, personal, private, general conversations with friends and family and loved ones, whether instructing and/or coaching his pupils in the classroom and on the court, Jeremy left an indelible imprint in our minds and hearts. As such, invoking one more time life lyrics of our resident poet laureate, Jeremy would undoubtedly approve of sharing this final admonishment to those of us who remain hurt and brokenhearted, a to “Love, Forgive, Support, Understand and Respect one another always,” and to his ‘Brothers in Arms’ he would implore, “Let No Man Write My (your) Epitaph…” (Willard Motely, 1960). Brilliance like Jeremy’s is often not long for this world, and the Nova that he was in this life faded far too soon. His new star, his Capella has resumed the space in the heavens previously vacated when he was on loan to us for this truly fleeting moment in time.
Jeremy’s life and precious memories will be cherished by all who love him, his children, Andrew, Jadyn, Jaysin, and Jemma; his parents, Wynona and Ras (Lowe-Sharp), Natasha Gurtner (Stepmom); sisters, Corrine, Sylvia (Dontae Riley), Tia Gurtner; niece, Lyric Lowe, Kaycee Reddick (Troy); brothers, Rolfie Gurtner, Artum Voevodin, Samuel Thompson; stepsisters, Lynn Lowe, Freda Hardy (Chris), Maryam Cooper (Walter), Ruby Lowe; stepbrothers, Artum Voevodin, Terry Lowe Jr, and Ibrahim Lowe; and a universe of aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, friends, and extended family.
“Always loved and remembered, never forgotten.”
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