Jeffrey Suydam, a key player in the establishment of the Peaceful Societies website 13 years ago, died suddenly on June 17th. A highly peaceful man as well as a very creative technical advisor, Jeff’s support for the website, and for anything having to do with computers, was amazing. A nephew by marriage of this website writer, he was always willing to share his technical knowledge about anything having to do with computers or websites. Peace, family, computers, websites—he made them all work so well.

Jeff Suydam and his daughter Morgan in 2015
Jeff Suydam and his daughter Morgan in 2015

Jeff was born on January 15, 1970, in Bristol, Pennsylvania, a town overlooking the Delaware River and South Jersey where he lived most of his life. He worked for many years as a Senior Systems Engineer at Admiral Insurance Group but he took a new position as a Senior Systems Engineer at Sungard Availability Services less than two years ago. He married my niece Heidi Myers Suydam in 1996 and the two of them have a wonderful daughter, Morgan, who is now 17. In large part due to Jeff’s influence, they have a peaceful family which will doubtless remain so even though the father of the family is gone.

Jeff clearly had a strong interest in peacefulness and in the value of studying societies that are, or have been, highly peaceful. He had a helpful, caring spirit that guided his life. His interest in peacefulness was critical in getting the website designed in 2003-04, launched in test mode late in 2004, and finally opened to the public in January 2005.

He, with the support and cooperation of his cousin, Matt Albright, were the glue that held the Peaceful Societies website project together in the days when we were designing pages with the Dreamweaver program. While Matt lives in California, Jeff lived much closer to this writer so he could easily assume the role of helping make sure that everything went well.

A review of emails with Jeff and careful notes on our meetings during that formative period shows that this writer asked many questions that must have seemed quite dumb to him, but he answered all of them with patience and skill. Jeff was a good teacher with the rare ability to skillfully answer questions from those of us with little technical chops. He made me feel as if each question I asked was a good one, even though I suspect he wondered about my intelligence more than once.

Although the website moved in January 2016 to its present location within the Department of Anthropology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Jeff still provided moral support, even if he had to answer fewer questions. I will always remember his unique skills and supportive attitudes. This website wouldn’t have been possible without him.