In Memory

Jeff Diefendorf

I am sorry to be a bearer of sad news but wanted to let you know that Jeff died peacefully in his sleep on Saturday at Watson Fields, the assisted living facility where he has been since May. His lungs just gave out—technically pneumonia as a complication of his primary progressive aphasia. This is pretty common for people with dementia, but the progression of Jeff's illness had been so gradual that the suddenness with which it turned took even his nurses by surprise. He was able to walk out to the sun porch, where he liked to sit and watch the birds with his arm around my shoulder, less than two weeks ago. He went on oxygen and palliative care only last Wednesday and slipped quietly away very early Saturday morning. It is of course a shock, but I can only be grateful that he went quickly at the end, leaving me with fresh memories of his ability still to smile and to take pleasure in little things.

I am doing well, or as well as can be hoped. Jeff’s sister was with me from Saturday evening until this morning, and my friends here have been very supportive. In many ways the process of grieving Jeff began six or seven years ago, as I watched him being slowly robbed the intellect and abilities that made him who he was. Happily, he remained remarkably calm and generous in spirit through it all—loving toward me, kind to his caregivers, and courageous in accepting his limitations. This makes it all much easier to bear.
Please share the news with members of your class who might care to know.
Thanks, and best wishes,
Bill Carroll sent Jeff's Obituary:

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03/27/24 11:39 PM #1    

Neal Kloepfer

I have known Jeff every since we were in Mrs. Reid's First grade class at Bandelier Elementary School. Jeff lived in the 500 block of Tulane and I lived in the 400 block. When we started at Wilson Junior High we would ride our bikes to Wilson. On the way we would meet Jim Hampson at Mike Mauney's house on Ridgecrest. It seemed to be five miles at that time, but I think it was only about a mile.

I was very pleased that Jeff came to Our 50th Graduation Reunion. He told me that he couldn't come to the 55th Reunion because his illness had started to affect his memory.

He was a Very Good Man

May he Rest in Peace.


03/28/24 09:51 AM #2    

Steve Komadina

It is sad to hear of Jeff's passing but I am glad it was peaceful and he is freed of his chains of mental decline. I am sure he was a great professor and teacher. He was certainly very bright. Prayers for his wife and family. 

03/28/24 04:37 PM #3    

Sherry Miller (McMullin)

Can someone tell me how to write to Barbara directly and personally?  I have some really important things

to tell her about Jeff, who was a dear friend.  


Sherry Miller McMullin

03/28/24 04:53 PM #4    

Virginia Downing (Hendley)

My condolences to his loved ones.  Virginia

03/28/24 06:18 PM #5    

Bill C. Carroll

Like Neal, I knew Jeff from the 3rd grade on: Bandelier, Wilson, Highland. We took nearly every class together, and had had plans to room together at Stanford -- but he got in and I didn't. We went our separate ways for some years after graduation, but in the late 1970s or so he got his position in the History Department at the University of New Hampshire, just an hour away, and Barbara shortly thereafter became my colleague at Boston University (she teaching French history). Carol and I saw them with some frequency over the next several decades, enjoying concerts, restaurants, and just talking. We took a memorable trip together through France, with Barbara translating for us.

Jeff was a very, very distinguished scholar of German history and the Holocaust, with a special emphasis initially on the reconstruction of German cities after the war. He was meticulous and original in his work, and achieved tremendous acclaim. His c.v. was immense, with many books, articles, talks, reviews, fellowships, and honors. UNH was lucky to have him.

But above all, Jeff was a good friend for all that time, better to me than I was to him. His many kindnesses will not be forgotten. Beyond his intellectual achievements, he was a good man. RIP.

Bill Carroll

03/28/24 08:06 PM #6    

Jane Mullins (Bacchus)


I have so many wonderful memories of Jeff and his family.  He was so intelligent and I am certain he was a fabulous professor!.  I'll never forget him and my condolences to his wife and Gail.  ❤️❤️❤️.      Jane Mullins Bacchus


04/02/24 08:18 AM #7    

Bill C. Carroll

A full obituary for Jeff (it's not Dover, MA, but Dover, NH)

04/02/24 02:46 PM #8    

Steve Komadina

Great Obituary. Sad end to a great mind!

04/09/24 06:46 PM #9    

Morty Cohen

I am very saddened for us all at the loss of Jeff.  Jeff and I spent many, many good times together during those school day years.  We would spend countless nights going back and forth on the ping pong table for hours at a time while his dad would intermittently bring us snacks and cheer us on.

Jeff and I really enjoyed studying together, and inspiring each other, for tests and doing homework together. Sometimes we would study together into the early hours of the morning...  I will always remember that gosh darned Calculus text from M.I.T., which neither we nor anyone else in the class (often including our dear hearted teacher Goodsell Slocum) could decipher....

One of the endearing and memorable highlights of our English class with Mr. Robertson was our strategic, clandestine and ongoing efforts to fire spitwads and throw erasers at unsuspecting classmates.  Of course we got a huge kick out of it until those inevitable moments we got caught.

Jeff was and is a very easy going and genuine soul and a dear friend. His wit and acumen were outstanding, and his sense of humor accompanied him everywhere.

May he rest and reside forever in peace and grace





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