Jay J. Eastman 62 of Lewistown died March 11, 2020 at his home of natural causes. A unique, kind, and gentle soul has passed our way. Perhaps his path crossed yours and brightened it one sunny day. You may remember seeing him quietly putt’ing down the street on his Honda scooter, no matter the weather or time of year. Jay was truly a man for all seasons. Or maybe you spent some time with him, and witnessed his understated but acutely fun sense of humor. A brother called Jay the day after he saw him on Main Street one -20 degree early morning. “I saw you out on your scooter yesterday morning”, he said. “Yeah, man”, he replied. “It sure is cold out there! I wouldn’t want to be walking!” Jay had a fun way of tickling our ribs, while amusing himself as well. It was always fun to see him smiling.
Jay was an artist of such a unique design. Few others attest to the originality of his patterns. His works would have fit well hanging on the wall somewhere between Picasso and Angelo. One Junior High classmate remembers when Jay broke both of his arms. Not to be dissuaded, he took off his shoes and socks, and painted with his toes. “He painted better with his toes than we did with our fingers”, she concluded. He definitely followed his dreams in life. You have heard of the man that marches to his own drum. If you had the chance to meet Jay, you met that man.
Born appropriately on February 2, Ground Hogs Day 62 years ago to father Gordon (cowboy, poet and surveyor), and Sue (excellent mother, mentor and librarian) Eastman. Jay, as well as his folks and grand folks were all Lewistown natives. He was the last of Sue and Gordon’s children, joining sister Lynn Dyba, and brothers Mark (Mari), Kirk (Sandy and Kathy), and Dana (Mary Kay). Jay made a loving home with his life partner Marcella Rammelt. They raised their son, Evan Eastman, along with his step sisters, Brandy (Matt) and Tanna (Marco). He was also a father figure to Marcella’s sons, Chris and James. Jay was affectionately known as grandpa to Brandy’s children Asian, Summer (Talon), Autumn and Brooke, along with Tanna’s children Kyler, Leasia, and Tiahna. He was also great-grandfather to Asian’s children Jewel and Wesley Jay (Jay’s name sake).
One Thanksgiving he was cooking for the family, but had to stop over at a visiting cousin Diane’s Thanksgiving gathering. With heavy persuasion and not wanting to disappoint, Jay was talked into a tasty plate of food. After fairly quickly dispatching it over congenial conversation, Jay said, “Well some folks say they hate to eat and run, but I’ve got to run and eat!” Always coming or leaving us with a smile.
Jay was a graduate of Fergus High School, most naturally majoring in Art. He went on to a commercial Art school near Boulder CO and earned a silk-screening degree. He became an accomplished silk screener and sign artist working at Eastman Sign Co., a Miles City sign shop, and later as Jay Signs. He did nice authentic signs, the old fashion way with brush and lettering enamel. He formed a partnership with brother Dana, and they did quite a lot of residential and commercial painting. They were known, and even loved, by their customers as not just painters but “true artists”. It seems to be a family trait. After a decade or two of working together, Dana passed on. Jay sorely missed him, but continued on their painting ways. He was just recently retiring due to health issues.
Jay passed away of a pair of heart attacks. The first while riding his scooter. He did receive medical treatment, but succumbed to the second heart attack at home in bed a week later. Jay was proud of the fact that he and Marcella had celebrated 15 years of sobriety together.
To say he will be missed by family and friends is an understatement. Cousin Ralph and Janet Keeney of San Francisco, CA summed up Jay as: a good man, kind, extremely smart, authentic, unique, a great father/role model, thoughtful, brave, and pleased himself while he pleased others. Amen!
You are invited to a celebration/remembrance of life for Jay Eastman on Friday, March 20th, 2020 at 2:00 p.m.in Lewistown at New Life Assembly, 515 – 7th Ave. North, cremation has taken place. The Cloyd Funeral Home is assisting the family. You will get to see Jay’s beautifully unique “Kitty By the Bay” painting. Bring a memory to share. Jay would like that.
We might catch ourselves turning our heads at the sound of a small scooter to see if we can get a glimpse of Jay. But alas, I am afraid he has already putted off into the night with a smile.
Friends are asked to make memorials to the charity of their choice and they may be left with the Cloyd Funeral Home. Condolences for the family may be posted online at www.cloydfuneralhome.com.