Throwback Thursday: Marty and Jay at CES

marty jay bell
Myself and Jay Bell at CES 1996

This is a color printed image capture at the Casio booth at CES trade show. My best estimated guess is 1996, as this is the memory I have based on both my young looks and the quality of the printed “photo”. The other person in this picture is Jay Bell, who was part of a business venture we had called InfoStream. We did publications and this was the first and only year we had a booth at CES.

Jay History

Jay and I first met in 1988 when I started working at Word Perfect. Jay was part of the support team and did networking. I was also part of the support team and knew networking. So it was natural that we started working together. We quickly became friends and found an interest in many subjects, including purchasing and watching movies. Jay, our friend and fellow business partner Charles and I collected Laserdiscs, which were the precursor to DVD. In 1990, Jay and I built homes next door to each other. Thanks to job changes, I moved my family from this home in Orem, UT to Salt Lake City in May of 1997. Jay moved sometime after we did. During the time we lived next door to each other, we were the best of friends and the best of neighbors. Jay, being a single gay man, spent a lot of time in our home and I spent a lot of time at his home.

Fast forward to January 2000 when I was going through a divorce. Jay and I still kept very much in contact, attending several more CES trade shows in Las Vegas as well as continuing our interest in movies. Jay was nice enough to let me move in with him for a few months, which was a huge help to my stability in the early stages of my divorce. We continued to stay in regular contact until around the middle of 2003 when Jay experienced a setback in his employment. This forced him to switch to a job that was not fulfilling nor paid anywhere near what he had been making.

Tragic End

Around the first part of December 2003, I called Jay and he was in downtown Salt Lake City doing some shopping. I asked if he needed a ride as he didn’t drive due to his life-long eyesight issues [he was born blind but regained a good deal of his eyesight by the time he was 6 years old]. He said he did. I went to pick him up. There was a decent amount of snow, so he appreciated the ride. We had a nice chat about life, his horrible job and what wine he had purchased in the ride back to his condo that he had been in since 1997. We talked a bit more until I left to go back home.

About a week later, Jay and I talked on the phone. We had plans to hang out with him a few days before Christmas so he could finally meet Reba, my now wife, but then my girlfriend and fiance. The chat was good and he seemed to be in a better mood, even saying a few words to Reba in anticipation of meeting her.

That was the last time we would talk.

On the morning of December 17, 2003, our friend Charles called to tell me that Jay was in the hospital. He had been hit by a bus across the street from his condo, after getting off the bus and on his way home. My wife and I had a work holiday party to attend that night, which just so happened to be down the road from the hospital Jay was in. A mutual friend – Brent Pace – was at the hospital when I arrived. I was able to be escorted back to ICU and could spend a few minutes with Jay. He was on life support and had a lot of head trauma from being hit. They opened his skull to relieve a lot of brain swelling. I said my goodbyes, mixed in with “You will make it out of this.” and “We have so much to do in life” statements, in hopes that he would recover.

The next day, I called Brent to see what time I could come up to visit Jay. I was at a work-related holiday event outside the office when I stepped away to call. Brent relayed the news to me that Jay had passed away a few hours before. Trying to compose myself, I went back and finished my function. My boss at the time knew Jay, so after the event, I broke the news to him. The day was December 18, 2003. One week before Christmas.

Jay’s funeral was a well attended event with many friends, family and so many people that knew and worked with him. I treasure my friendship with Jay and am sad that I don’t have many photos of him. But I do have memories of the many years we spent together.


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