Remembering Jay Van Vechten

jay van vechten
From left: Jay Van Vechten, Marie Speed, Lowell Van Vechten

I’ve put off writing this because I just couldn’t really believe that Jay Van Vechten was gone, just like that. He and his wife, Lowell, are friends of mine; I heard through the grapevine we were getting a Zoom happy hour organized. In hours, he had died and all of us were reeling.

I don’t remember how I met Jay but I do remember meeting Lowell as we both waited for our cars at the Resort’s valet stand. She just turned and introduced herself and chatted away, like we were both at a pie sale in Indiana or somewhere—not in Boca, where people usually are not that outgoing, at least not to strangers.

He was like that, too; he didn’t know a stranger, as my mom used to say. They’d have these big rambling dinner parties at the old house in Royal Palm, with bright middle eastern throws covering the tables, plenty of wine and whiskey and a roomful of people you actually wanted to talk to—who were different and interesting, all pulled from disparate points in their lives. He had friends everywhere, from across the globe, and travel had been his passion all of his life, until he was no longer able to navigate it.

He loved the old days in New York, he loved the theater, he loved a party, his own birthdays and he loved to talk and tell stories. He made you feel as if you were the most important person in his life. He was there if you needed him.

When he started the Bash years ago it consumed them both, and he will be forever recognized for that. But I am more selfishly remembering him as a friend, the guy you wanted to sit next to at a dinner party, with a heart as big as he was.

This is from the love of his life—his wife, Lowell—who notes better than I a life well lived. Glorious travels to Jay; But we wish you were here.

1944 – 2020

Jay Van Vechten passed away Saturday, July 11, at Hospice By The Sea. He was 75 and lived in Boca Raton, FL. Van Vechten parlayed his extensive New York media and Public relations experience into what has grown into the largest free outdoor event in the country for people with disabilities–both seen and unseen. Due to a fall in 2001, Jay became disabled himself, but that never kept him from pursuing his goals and his dreams. Born September 11, 1944 in New York City, the Manhasset native studied graphic design at Carnegie Mellon University. He went on to form Van Vechten & Co. in Manhattan where he represented medical, pharmaceutical and health-care clients from around the world. An avid traveler himself, he loved organizing trips with groups of friends, spanning the globe and delighting in sharing his discoveries. They say the measure of a man is not in wealth or possessions but in how he was regarded by others. As a devoted husband, father and friend, Jay’s capacity for love—the genuine, true, unconditional love—was LARGE. He loved people and everyone who knew him understood that in him they had a friend for life. In his honor, we need to take the ‘lessons’ he gifted us with and pay them forward. Stay connected, celebrate life, practice forgiveness and be kind to one another and to strangers. Don’t be afraid to reach out, make a difference and see the positive aspects of life and the lives of those you come in contact with. He is survived by his wife Lowell, son Nicholas, grandson Alex and an enormous extended family. Namaste to our beloved and cherished ‘fearless leader’.