Cover photo for Jay Gaskill's Obituary
Jay Gaskill Profile Photo
1941 Jay 2022

Jay Gaskill

October 15, 1941 — April 26, 2022

Jay Ben Gaskill -- attorney, author, music lover, humanist, futurist, optimist, and dispenser of sage advice -- passed away at his home in Idaho Falls, Idaho on April 26, 2022. He was 80. He leaves behind Robyn Infelt Gaskill, his beloved wife of 30 years, and a far-flung network of friends and family who will miss him greatly. Jay was born in Burley, Idaho on October 15, 1941, to John Leonard Gaskill and Helen Sprague Gaskill. He grew up in Idaho Falls, where he developed many of the interests that would mark the rest of his life -- a love for humor and philosophy; science and science fiction; technology and wilderness. He learned to play the French horn, and had a passion for music. As a young man, Jay attended the University of Washington and the University of Idaho. He earned his law degree from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law, and began his career as a criminal trial and appellate attorney when he joined the Alameda County Public Defender's Office in Oakland, California. It was work that suited his strengths as a shrewd strategist, orator, diplomat, writer, and analytical thinker. In 1989, he was appointed Chief Public Defender of Alameda County, supervising 120 attorneys, 20 investigators, and 80 support staff, providing legal defense services to indigent persons in a county of a million people. Colleagues remember his brilliant legal mind, wry sense of humor, and great skill in training others. But by the year 2000, he was ready to move on. Retiring from the Public Defender's Office, he dove -- enthusiastically -- into a new phase as a columnist, writer, and criminal justice expert. His work included both political commentary (appearing in newspapers and on Jay's website, The Policy Think Site) and fiction (such as The Extermination Game and The Lost Souls Coffee Shop). These were happy years. He had three children (Gwen and Dan from his first marriage to Marguerite Smith, and Laura from his second marriage to Anne Harris). He had six grandchildren, who relished in his playful attentions and goofy, creative humor. And he had found lasting joy with Robyn. Married on January 1st, 1992, the couple bought a house in Idaho Falls, and traveled extensively, hiking across Northern Spain, visiting the glaciers of the Canadian Rockies, visiting their friends and family throughout the country. Yet they always circled back to their Idaho home, returned to their stomping grounds in Swan Valley and the Tetons, the places on earth where Jay never failed to find his bliss. He regaled his friends and neighbors with his stories, and shared his beautiful photography of the places he loved. He enjoyed conversations at the Idaho Falls Exchange Club, and was their keynote speaker in 2019, recounting his experiences in Manhattan during 9/11, and what it taught him about the necessity of opposing evil. Above all, Jay was an optimist, and he urged us to resist fatalism. As he argued, the human species is "specially equipped with a unique suite of faculties and capabilities, among them the faculties of compassion, creativity, and intelligent life-affirming adaptation." Most human progress "has come about when the optimists... shook off great wheel fatalism." Jay is survived by his wife, Robyn; his brother, John "Jack" Gaskill and sister-in-law Kathy Gaskill; Jay's daughter, Gwen Dewar, and her children, Angelina and Eliza; Jay's son, Dan Gaskill, Jay's daughter-in-law, Emily Gaskill, and their children, Merial and Douglas; Jay's daughter Laura Gaskill, Jay's son-in-law, Ben Rasmussen, and their son, Bixby. In addition, he is survived by his stepson, Nathan Foreman, Nathan's wife Lorna, and Jay's step-granddaughter, Maddy; as well as by his beloved nieces and nephew, Chelsea, Matthew, and Cassie; and his cousin Victoria Roper. Services will be held on May 16, 2022, at 11am, at St John Lutheran Church in Idaho Falls. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Idaho Falls Symphony.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Jay Gaskill, please visit our flower store.

Guestbook

Visits: 17

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the
Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Service map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

Send Flowers

Send Flowers

Plant A Tree

Plant A Tree