A Green Dragon is the motif, the symbol that unites Harlan High School graduates, as they come together to mourn the passing of yet another among them.
This time it is Jeff Brock, and the outpouring of grief comes from the now-adult men and women who knew him and saw him as he fought like the heroic Green Dragon he was as he battled the cancer which took his life on April 22. He was only 55 years old. Jenny Blanton calls out to those who knew and loved Jeff to post that Green Dragon on Facebook in honor of Jeff and writes, “Once a Dragon, always a Dragon.”
Jeff stayed in Kentucky after high school graduation and first chose Southeast Community College and then the University of Kentucky and finally The Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University. He was admitted to the Kentucky bar in 1988 and elected Harlan County district judge in 2006.
In a Facebook post, Jennifer Varney Sturm expresses that rage, that crying out of those who feel the loss of Jeff : “I’m going to keep it real here. I’m totally OVER folks being ‘gone’ tragically and way too soon. I think it’s OK to be pissed off, hurt and just plain heartbroken that bodies break down, wear out, are shut down by diseases or traumatic injury, leaving our souls without an earthly home. GONE. We never forget & always have them in our hearts and memories but that doesn’t negate that their lives were cut short & we are left without them for the rest of our lives.”
Jayne Blanton Head posted photographs of Jeff as she remembers their 50-year friendship. All are endearing including a sweet one of the two at the 1968 Harlan High School Football Coronation when they were just little tykes, and Jeff was her escort. Knowing Jayne, as so many of us do, she was probably his escort and cautioning him to fulfill every part of their joint responsibilities according to her standards.
Jennifer Cassim Farmer knew the adult Jeff and his participation every year in the Cancer Survivors Network activities and writes, “He was a friend and mentor for so many of us.” She notes that Jeff’s wife, Michelle Brown Brock, and their children, Meg and Jeffery, “were the twinkle that was in his eyes.”
Kimberly Allison reflects upon Jimmy and Jeff growing up together on Ivy Hill and cautions all of us that “We miss so many opportunities to tell people how we feel. Our precious community has suffered the loss of so many people who meant so much to so many, but through it all the outpouring of love for the families fills your heart.”
Geraldine King: “Blessings and strength to his family. God speed, Jeff.”
Cindy McGeorge Moloney: “I’ll never forget his kindness.”
Dave Hall: “Jeff was a good guy and long-time friend. RIP, Jeff. You will be missed by many.”
Jacqueline Coldiron: “I thought the world of Jeff.”
In conclusion, I have a comment and then a quotation from Russell Simms, class of 1982.
As the mother of two Green Dragons, Lance and Quentin, I came to accept myself as Momma Green Dragon, and I feel a special connection to those kids whom I came to know between 1978 and 1986. I’ve lived in many places, and nowhere have I felt the long-lasting connection that I feel to the Harlan High School students of that time period. I grieved with the deaths of Clayton and Richard LeMarr, of Lisa Abraham and others. And my heart has gone out to so many of you with the passing of Mark Thompson, David Hensley and Charles Crawford.
I was brought up in the Central Baptist Church in Cumberland and in my grief, I always turn to passages I memorized as a child from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 where the author, some indicate it was written by Solomon in his elderly years, speaks to us of “a time to be born and a time to die” and of “a time to mourn and a time to dance” with a challenge to all of us “to do good.”
All of us have the option of how we determine “to do good,” because we know how much that is needed in our world.
Russell Simms gives us a wake-up call in regard to Jeff’s death, even for those unfamiliar with the philosophy of Solomon: “It’s always shocking…because we look at one another as a picture of health. None of us are created to stay here permanently. What we do while we’re here impacts those around us. My days are numbered as well, and I have no idea when the Father will call me home. Remember those who have gone home, love those around you, and know the Lord is always with us, even in our times of sorrow.”
Rest in peace, Jeff Brock, knowing that so many are committed to comforting Michelle, Meg and Jeffery.