FRANKFORD, DEL./BAR HARBOR
A quiet, caring man with a strong moral compass and an incredible sense of integrity, Jeff enjoyed the simple pleasures in life: Redskin football on a Sunday; figuring out “whodunit” before he finished reading a good mystery; grilling up something tasty for the family dinner and picking wildflowers for the table; and playing with his beloved puppy dogs.
He retired as a deputy chief from the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department in Virginia — his lifelong dream. As an operations officer on the Urban Search and Rescue Team, he traveled to Turkey, Taiwan and Iran on rescue missions after devastating earthquakes. Arriving at the Pentagon before the rest of his team on 9/11, Jeff attempted rescues without regard for his own personal safety. He was a hero in every sense of the word and so proud of his career and accomplishments, as was his family.
Jeff was a loyal and loving husband to Jenn for 30 years. His love of the Chesapeake Bay drew them to Kent Island, Maryland, for nine years. Later, the combination of the water, mountains and great peace brought them to Bar Harbor. Though their marriage ended in divorce, their close bond was never broken and they remained friends and confidants.
Nothing brought Jeff greater joy than being a dad to his furry kids. Whether it was a game of hide-n-seek or letting them break the rules, Dad was always the fun guy and the kids loved him immensely.
The strength and courage that were Jeff’s hallmark at work and during personal challenges is what his loved ones will strive to emulate as we grieve his passing. Jeff is survived by his former wife, Jenn Donaldson Brandt, and their beloved Lab, Dakota Linwood, of Mount Desert (predeceased by Katie Girl and Jazzy C). His Maryland family, mother Shirley Donaldson, sister Kathy Rechen and his constant companions Mandy Moo and Mr. Shiloh, were such a source of comfort for Jeff over the past several years. The void in their lives will also never be filled.
To honor Jeff as he wished, a celebration of his life will take place at the Ship Harbor Trail — his favorite spot on the island where he sought solitude and peace. Now we will go there to grieve, remember him, and begin the process of healing.