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Jay Befort, 69

His many friends knew it would take more than a sore arm to get Jay Befort off the baseball field. Baseball, particularly Red Wing baseball, was an important part of his life from Little League to high school and throughout his adult years. There were, of course, considerably more important aspects to Jays life than a gamedeep devotion to family, enduring friendships, being the key man for his employers, to name a few. But there is good reason that, after Jays death on March 15 following a brief illness, his family chose Red Wings Athletic Field as the place to gather in his memory.

Jay Befort was born in Red Wing on October 28, 1944, to Vernon and Alice Bird Befort. He attended city public schools and graduated in 1962 at age 17. He earned a degree in Architectural Engineering at the University of Minnesota before beginning a lifetime career in the home construction industry. Jay served as an executive for Capp Homes of Minneapolis, later working in Hartford, Conn., and Seattle, Wash., before returning to Minnesota. He retired from President Homes in 2008.

He is survived by his wife of 27 years, Cindy; son Jon (Heidi), granddaughter Lily; son Joel (Shelly), grandsons Kirby and Nickolas; son Jason (Heidi); former wife Shelia; brother William (Nancy); nieces Corinna and Belinda; mother-in-law Beverly; brother-in-law Richard; and the Woebegone's.

He deeply appreciated the love and support of Cindy. A person of remarkable patience and good humor, she sat for hours at a time on the hard, backless bleachers of Minnesota ballparks. Likewise, Cindy gracefully served as the unofficial hostess of Jays class reunions. That had to be tough duty, but she never let it appear to be. Cindy came to know Jays wide circle of baseball, high school, college and business friends and their wives. She made them her friends, too.

Jay loved Red Wing and maintained close ties to the city. The Befort-Bird family had deep roots in and around his hometown. Friendships he developed as a grade-schooler with youngsters having equally strong family connections to the city lasted his lifetime. In his role as class president, Jay worked with dogged determination to bring all his classmates to Red Wing reunions every five years.

He was very proud of his boys, and had good reason to be. They all possess elements of his character: Jon, with his sense of humor and passion for following sports; Joel, with his athletic ability and unselfish nature; Jason, with his intelligence and quick wit. In recent years, Jay plowed snow in the backyard to create a baseball diamond so his grandkids (Kirby, Nickolas and Lilly) could play whiffle ball when they visited.

Another of Jays passions was his golf game. For fifteen years he coordinated an annual family rite of spring, the La Crosse Invitational Championship (LIC), a golf showdown that included sons Jon and Joel and close family friend Corey Tauer. He and his Red Wing schoolmate foursome, including Tom Hedin, Scott Jones and Tom Kramer, could be found on any golf course that would have them.

His baseball career also continued. The fact that he kept playing did not prevent him from retiring a dozen or more times. "This is it," he would say at seasons end before grudgingly agreeing to another the following summer. He last "retired" from baseball in 2013 at age 69. The Minnesota 50+ Baseball League made Jay the first member of its Hall of Fame. Jay was also the only player in Red Wing Amateur Baseball history to play for the Red Wing Scarlets of the 60s, the Red Wing Aces of the 70s and the reborn Scarlets of the 80s.

Jay Beforts time with us ended far too abruptly. We all expected to share many more years with him. But if quality of life counts for anything, and we believe that it does, Jay lived a good life.

If we could ask Jay if he had any complaints, were pretty sure hed give us a broad smile and say with assurance, "Nope."

Private Grave Site Service to be held at Oakwood Cemetery in Red Wing, Minn. Memorial to be held at the Athletic Field Building in Red Wing, Minn., Saturday, March 29th from 1 to 4 p.m. In lieu of flowers, memorials preferred to The Red Wing Athletic Association or to the charity of giver's choice.