Jeff “Duck” Trimble

Jeff “Duck” Trimble, 85, left this world on Sunday April 7, 2024 at his home in Largo, Florida after a long battle with cancer. His daughter Lynda was by his side for his last breath.

He will be missed and will always hold a place in our hearts. Friends and family will miss Jeff’s free spirit, sharp wit, and Friday driveway gatherings.

Born October 16,1938 in Bloomington, Illinois to Lane and Helen (Land) Trimble, Jeff would spend a lifetime rising to meet and beat many challenges.

At age 6, Jeff fell ill with polio, but recovered fully. When his parents divorced a decade later, Jeff stayed with his father in the Chicago area to complete high school while his mother and his four younger siblings moved to California. Several years would pass before he would reunite with his mother and siblings.

Jeff finished high school and began honing his mechanical skills turning wrenches to repair lawn mower engines, which led to go-kart engines, and Jeff became a national champion go-kart racer in the late 1950’s and early 1960s racing for Fox Go-Boy Karts of Janesville, Wisconsin. Also in the 1960s, Jeff was a snowmobile racer sponsored by Bart Starr’s Arctic Cat dealership in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Bart and Cherry Starr were wonderful to the Trimbles and would invite Jeff’s young family to their Green Bay home for dinners and parties. Motorcycles were abundant in the Trimble garage and Jeff would always be working on a bike of his own or a friend’s or those of biker groups. Many summer Sundays were spent hill climbing on motorcycles with friends and Jeff would race many of those same friends on winter Sundays on spiked-tired motorcycles over a frozen, circular track on Lake Koshkonong in Wisconsin.

While Jeff never lost his need for speed, he did need to provide for a young family after his marriage to Milly Vine in 1960 and the addition of two daughters. Jeff was a born salesman and began selling life insurance door-to-door for Equitable of Iowa. His success with that tough challenge would afford him an office and many awards for outstanding salesmanship. Always the car guy, Jeff then went on to sell cars at auto dealerships in Janesville, Wisconsin, where he would consistently be top salesman.

Jeff and Milly divorced in 1972 and Jeff moved back to his hometown of Bloomington, Illinois after being gone for 18 years. He reunited with former school friends who formed a core group that went on annual trips to Indianapolis for the Indy 500. It was also in Bloomington that he would earn his “Duck” nickname when he began the Ugly Duckling Rent-A-Car business in the late 1970’s.

Jeff sold the business and moved from Illinois to the Tampa, Florida area in the mid-1980s where he worked as an RV salesman until he began working in regional sales for Crysteel Truck Equipment selling large truck equipment to municipalities over a 7-state area. Jeff retired from Crysteel after about a decade and right after his first diagnosis of cancer.

His cancer challenge began in 2003 and while he went through some serious chemotherapy and radiation treatments, Jeff’s cancer would later go into remission for 9 years. Whether dealing with his cancer or enjoying remission, Jeff continued to ride his lightning fast Buell motorcycle on Sundays with his riding buddies to roadside bars and other events with the rally cry of “Kickstands up at 10am!”

He also continued to work at various jobs that he loved — being the old guy who knew everything about tools at Hammock Hardware in Largo, trolley driver for Jolley Trolley where his favorite gigs were driving bachelorette parties around Clearwater Beach, and running Duck’s Firewood business selling firewood to locals for bonfires and to local restaurants for their smokers and grills. Jeff loved working his log splitter and chainsaws to then stack wood in several wheelbarrows in his yard for his customers. The wood business brought friends old and new to his place and he always had Snicker bars for the kids and dog treats for people’s pups. The best advertising for Duck’s Firewood was Jeff’s driveway on Friday afternoons as friends and family would sit around the firepit, drink beverages, and share some great stories.

Jeff’s mechanical expertise came full circle in his retirement as he would buy non-working lawn mowers and small scooters to tune up the engines and resell them. It wasn’t so much the money that motivated him but the turning of the wrench. Jeff could diagnose an engine’s problems just by hearing it run and then fix it to a perfect pitch. He once diagnosed a US Mail truck’s problems just by hearing it drive by and he told the mail carrier to take it to maintenance and tell them that it has a serious problem. The mail carrier came by later that week to tell Jeff that he was spot on and thanked him.

Other than the ever present cancer challenge, two almost greater challenges for Jeff were when his health and strength rendered him unable to use his tools to fix the mowers and scooters as well as run the chainsaws and log splitter for the wood business. A lifetime collection of tools was sequestered to a locked shed that Jeff would visit frequently if only just to hold a wrench and feel the memories in the steel.

Jeff’s 21-year cancer challenge raced its last race from March 5, 2024 to April 7, 2024 and ended peacefully with family by his side. He lived until he died and all in all, he had a great ride.

Jeff is survived by his daughters Michelle Gardner of Janesville, Wisconsin and Lynda Mather of Largo, Florida, sister Holly (John) Billecci of Scottsdale, Arizona, and several nieces and nephews. He also has 3 bonus grandchildren and 4 bonus great-grandchildren. Jeff is preceded in death by his parents, and brothers Gary, Craig, and Brian Trimble.

The family would like to thank the many doctors and nurses who helped Jeff with his 21-year cancer battle as well as those who provided care for several surgeries and rehabilitation. We would also like to thank Suncoast Hospice for their care and guidance during the last month of Jeff’s life as well as Abbey Affordable Cremation and Funeral Services for their assistance with the final arrangements.

As per Jeff’s request, no funeral or memorial service will be held. A celebration of his life will be held at VFW Post 10094, 14450 Walsingham Rd. in Largo, FL on Saturday April 20 from 4pm to 7pm.

4 Responses

  1. A man very easy to like even if you only had the opportunity to see him only occasionally. He was loved and admired by his daughters.

  2. Duck was an awesome person and Fridays evenings on the driveway or back in the pool were always a highlight. He is greatly missed, love Kristin and Brian Kelley

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