Jonathan Slater – In Memorium

Jonathan Slater 1966-2016

Where to begin? It has to be from the beginning…

For me, that was 1977. I had just moved to Los Angeles from the L.A. suburbs. My parents were going through an acrimonious divorce. I’d bounced from school to school to school over the previous two years as my mother and father kept moving in the aftermath of their separation.

I landed at Ivanhoe Elementary School for 6th grade. My mother, and her sister Julie–having gone through her own divorce–rented a house to raise their four combined children: me, my sister, and my cousins. Ivanhoe was roughly two miles from my new home and I walked it most days.


6th Grade at Ivanhoe Elementary.  Jonathan was the tall kid with dark hair in the back row.  I was the doofy looking off his right shoulder.

My first day of school, knowing nothing about it or anyone going there for that matter, the teacher (can’t remember who that teacher was) assigned me to Jonathan Slater to show me the ropes around the school. I expected him–already a giant of a kid–to resent this additional duty of babysitting me. Me, this dorky 11 year year old with ridiculously long 1970’s hair and wearing hand me down clothes because we were incredibly poor. Instead, I experienced the character of Jonathan Slater for the first time. He not only took care of me, he befriended me and stayed close to me for the next 39 years.

I could highlight all the things we did, but instead, I’ll try to focus on him and how the things we did left impressions on me, shadows of him.

Jonathan introduced me to the Beatles. I mean, this was 1977-78, I knew of the Beatles – but not the way Jonathan knew the Beatles. He imparted his already vast 11-12 year old knowledge on me, forever making me a Lennon-McCartney fan. When I turned 12, we went to a Beatlemania concert at the Pantages theater for my birthday. To this day, I cannot listen to the Beatles without thinking of Jonathan.


Beatlemania tickets


Then I moved. I left California for Denver to start over, yet again. 1978, no internet, long distance phone calls were pricey – especially for a 12 year old. A cycle of falling out of touch began – a cycle that would continue over the course of our relationship.

My mother still lived in LA, so when I went to visit, I would always get back together with Jonathan. Seeing him was always the best part of going back to California. We saw each other throughout our teenage years for brief moments, keeping our friendship kindled.

Years later, when we were in our 20’s I came back through California as I was moving from Hawaii to Maryland. This time, married and with 2 kids. Kids? Jonathan couldn’t be more pleased – perfect excuse to go to Disneyland! You couldn’t know Jonathan and not know that he loved Disney – not just Land but the movies as well.



Jonathan with my mother, daughter Katrina, and sister Shannon at our wedding in 2002

He took Katrina, then 6, to see Alladin – what adult without kids wants to see Disney movies? Jonathan!

Years later, in our 30’s, the first marriage was over, but I was getting married again. It seemed only right that Jonathan needed to be there. He of course, dropped everything and flew out to Maryland to take part in our wedding and as an added bonus, he filmed it!

Ellen and Jonathan

Ellen and Jonathan – downtown Hollywood

Time for a tangent. Film. It was who he was. He loved the media. He worked most his adult life as a film editor – for Fox Sports – even though he was never a sports fan. He worked on numerous hit series including Entourage and My Name is Earl. He rubbed shoulders with movie stars, but never let that change him. One time he texted me a picture of him and a fat bearded guy. I had no idea who it was. I had to ask, who are you with – he texted back, “Ron Jeremy.” I immediately, responded with: “wash your hands!”

Jonathan and Me

Taking pictures of the Hollywood sign in 2010

In 2010–now in our 40’s, Ellen and I went to California and saw Jonathan for what would end being the last time. Yet another long gap in between seeing each other. We spent the night in his house in Silver Lake – on the opposite side of the reservoir of the house he grew up in. He played tour guide of LA for Ellen, taking her to our old haunts: the Chinese Theater, Hollywood and Vine, the home of the Oscars, Griffith Park, the Hollywood sign, and one of his favorite spots – the Hollywood Cemetery, where the stars reside. Of course we finished the tour at the Red Lion – because, that’s where you go!


Jonathan and Shannon

Jonathan passed away yesterday, 2 1/2 months short of his 50th birthday. You could always remember Jonathan’s birthday because it fell on April Fools Day. Always seemed appropriate to me, not because he was a practical joker, but he was always jovial and fun to be around. He had a charisma about him that attracted people to him, but moreover, he had an unlimited capacity to invest himself in his friends – unlike anything or anyone I’ve ever met.


Jonathan and Al Pacino

His Facebook page is loaded with comments from people that are hurting today because of his passing. Each of them, myself included, feel like we lost our best friend. It’s a remarkable testament to the man that so many people felt so close to him – and him to them! We hurt because we lost not just him, but that part of ourselves that felt the joy of being around him and knowing we’ll never have that again. It’s a void that we are unsure how we will ever fill or replace. People like Jonathan are incredibly hard to find, but when we do find them, you hold on to them as long as you can. In my case, it was 39 years.

It would be only fitting if Jonathan is laid to rest at the Hollywood Cemetery, he deserves his place among the stars.

These are my memories of a truly great friend.  I left out the little things that all add up – like going to Dodgers Stadium for All Star game warm-ups when we were kids.  How I practically lived at his home in 6th grade, spending days on the campus of UCLA where his mother was taking classes.  Seeing Roger Waters with him in 1987 right before I went in the Army.  So many memories – all that I’ll look back on and smile, with a twinge of regret that we will never build more together going forward.

Obituaries never capture the essence of the person.  Jonathan needs to be remembered by those who loved him in a way four inches of type can ever capture.  He touched so many lives.  I look forward to reading the diverse memories of his friends.  49 is far to young.  It wasn’t you that deserved more – it was us.  We are all emptier without you!




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25 Responses to Jonathan Slater – In Memorium

  1. Sheila Shore says:

    I read this with tears flowing down my cheeks, but also smiles and memories of time spent with Jonathan.

    We spent hours driving around LA, touring his favorite spots…he showing off a city he loved. J escorted my daughter and I around Disneyland (her first trip in 2010) and made it magical for us. We played in San Francisco, Vegas, and he was welcomed into my home in Seattle on more than one occassion.

    I cannot believe I will never feel the warmth of his embrace again.

  2. Shannon Slater says:

    Thank you so much for writing this about my dear Cousin. I had many similar experiences with him and you said it perfectly when you wrote that we lost the part of us that felt joy from being around him. It’s a damn shame that this happened. As a family, we love seeing all of the love that people have for Jon. – Shannon Slater

    • seanasbury says:

      Shannon – I’m almost positive we met as kids. Your cousin was a special man – he meant the world to me!

      • Shannon Slater says:

        Probably at one of the Hanuakah or Passovers, he often had friends over down stairs where his dungeon was in Doris’ house. Knowing how much you care for him warms my heart. He loved all of his friends.

  3. Esther says:

    Jonathan and I went to Marshall together. I can’t believe he has passed. What happened? I’m in utter shock and disbelief. I have so many memories of our teenage years and early twenties together and ran into him most recently at the Red Lion. How can we find out when services will be?

    • seanasbury says:

      Esther – had I stayed, I would’ve known you at Marshall. For a short time, I lived in the bungalows across the street. Not surprising that you went with Jonathan to the Red Lion – they should put his picture on the wall – it was his place!

    • Debbie says:

      Esther! My mom and I remember you well. Email me privately and I will fill you in on gatherings for Jonathan –

    • Elizabeth M. Cosgrove says:

      We are hosting a memorial for Jonathan this Sunday 01/31/16 @ The Red Lion Tavern @2pm. All are welcome.

      • Elizabeth M. Cosgrove says:

        I’m going today to have a photo of Jonathan reprint and the Red Lion will be hanging it on the wall in his memory. He spend a lot of time there and was known and loved by all who knew him.

  4. Jonathan and I met back in 1979 I was about 16 or 17 and he was 2 or three years younger. We were brothers in every sense of the word and his lose is mine… A very LARGE part of my life left with him. We drank, smoked, snorted, drank & smoked more together over the years. We met girls together, double dated together, talk until the wee hours of the morning about life, the universe, and EVERYTHING! (if you know that reference…) Then as we got older we left behind many of those things that only served us well in our youths. He was a larger in my life than he was in his stature and he was about 6’3″ if he slouched.

    He brought so many of us together and even in his passing he has brought friends of old back to me… some little comfort in this time… but still comfort none the less.

    I will miss this man, this member of my true family more than words can ever express and the lifelong bond that we have IS NOT broken but most assuredly it is bruised by this cruel and indifferent act of fate.

    Jonathan – I love you brother… you are sorely missed.

    ~Johnny Valenti.

  5. jonnatemplar says:

    I am very sad to hear this news — I worked with Jonathan at The Post Group in the early 90s. His personality was one in a million, he was so full of life and fun to be around. May I ask what happened to cause his death?

  6. Lina Enriquez says:

    Oh I’m in tears!
    My heart hurts so much to think that such a beautiful soul has left too soon.
    I’m still loss for words and when I think that we will never get to chat again at the Red Lion my heart aches. You always made time for everyone.
    You would bounce from seat to seat making sure you spoke to everyone, asking them about their week. I can honestly say you had the most genuine hugs. I am so so sad beyond words. My heart is in my hand for your family and loved ones. One day we may cross paths again. But until then, just know that you touched more lives than you could ever imagine Jonathan. I swear you were one in a million.

  7. Brad Moylan says:

    Sean, I don’t think we ever met but I knew Jonathan for more than 25 years. He was a good friend. We went through a similar thing of long periods of no contact, especially for the last few years. I’ve been going back these last couple days and reading a bunch of old email threads between me and him. He actually told me in one that he was aware he had this propensity to sometimes “pull away” from close friends because he had some long time insecurities.

    But I know he loved people and always went out of his way to do things for them, even those he barely knew. He had a big heart.

    We met at The Post Group where he helped train me as a dubber and tape operator, then helped get me hired at Encore, helped my wife train for the LA Marathon – yes, this giant of a man ran the LA freakin’ Marathon in 1998! We used to go hiking on Sunday mornings all around Los Angeles and Malibu in the early 00’s. I took a short job in San Francisco in 2007 and he INSISTED on tandem driving up there with me to help get me settled and show me around.

    The man was a huge influence in my life and I think it’s fair to say that I wouldn’t have the career I have now if it weren’t for him.

    We had a falling out a few years ago over something stupid. And time did what it does and pulled us further apart. I was always hoping, though, somewhere in a dark corner of my mind that we’d some day sort it out and maybe go off on another adventure.

    The time is past, we have only the memories now and they are pale imitations of the real thing. Jonathan was an awesome person and I just can’t even believe he’s gone.

    • seanasbury says:

      Brad thanks for sharing! I remember when Jonathan was running. We planned to run the Disney Marathon together some 8 years or so ago. Can’t remember why, but something prevented him from joining us in Orlando.

      None of us had a chance to say goodbye, or make our peace before he left. I’m sorry you had a falling out, but you knew him well enough to know those things were never permanent. He just wasn’t built to hold grudges for lengthy periods!

  8. Tanya says:

    This is such a lovely tribute and so very well written. I have read so many lovely messages and posts to Jonathan that I could so easily have posted myself. It is such a gift that he made us all feel so special and took such great care of us all. I have been reluctant to post anything about my memories or time spent with Jonathan because maybe that would make it more real. Make the nightmare I’ve been experiencing these last days a reality. I miss my friend, my neighbor. I was fortunate enough to purchase my first home next door to Jonathan. I can’t really recall our first meeting. It seems like we have always known each other. He had a permanent invite to every BBQ, every birthday party, and any daily activity. Nails? Sure – we would get our mani and pedi and then go to the Lion afterwards. Costco? sure, pick me up a tri-tip and handle. The late night texts – your spot is open so I could move my car into the perfect parking spot. He was always there to help out, to make me feel safe and secure. We had a plan for the big earthquake, a plan to build a bridge between our homes for easier access. Now I just want to build a tall wall between our houses so I don’t have to see the empty porch, the empty home. There will never be more talks about life, about our dreams, our future plans. I don’t know what do with the void that is left. How do you replace such a big piece of your own heart? I felt that he was immune to harm, I don’t recall him ever even suffering from a common cold, larger than life, almost indestructible. So how can you be gone? I don’t understand. Thank you for taking care of me, for getting my mail, for cat sitting, for taking me to the urgent care, for teaching me of all things Apple, for making me “run” that 5K, for hours of porch talk, for showing me the secret places of LA, for being a great neighbor and more importantly being a great friend. I am and will be missing you.

    • seanasbury says:

      Tanya – thank you for sharing. It is a terrible void left and impossible to fill. Your memories of him are so incredibly rich! I envy those that were in near daily contact with him. He was very special!

  9. Elizabeth M. Cosgrove says:

    Jonathan and I met at the Red Lion many years ago. He went from being a casual accquiantance, to one of my dearest and best friends. We shared birthdays, holidays and just about every weekend together. I saw him 4 out of 7 days most weeks. When I was unemployed last May-August we started going out on “field trips”. Jonathan loved this city and knew it inside and out as well as the surrounding communities. I called out outings the “Jonathan Slater Reality Tours”. Once I got my new job, we were limited to Fridays and some Sundays but still continued this tradition up until a week before he died. Our last field trip was the original Self Realization House on San Rafael Rd in Mt Washington.He and I had visited the Lake Shrine in Pacific Palisades previously and he wanted to share this place with me as well. He was a wise man with a full spectrum of knowledge and we would joke that he would be my life line should I ever get on a trivia show. He loved to share “fun facts” and tons of corny jokes! God how I miss his laughter and facial expressions. Jonathan was a constant in our lives and you could always depend on him. He would be the first person to check in on me when I was sick or when I had surgery to see if he could pick up medication, soup or to see if I wanted to get out of the house and cruise around. He would offer to bring me lunch while I was busy at work. He would also sent a text just to see how my day was and shared silly memes. He genuinely cared for people and he checked in. We spent time having “porch talk”, chats about everything under the Sun. He would lend a sympathetic ear and gave good advise in times of trouble. Funny, he never wanted anything in return and valued quality friends.

    My heart has been completely broken since learning of Jonathan’s death. I spoke to Tanya @/1108am on 01/21/16. I left work (less than 1 mile away) and rushed to his house because I was in disbelief that my best friend was gone. Amanda, Earl and Debbie were across the street waiting on the sidewalk. Tanya joined us. We were all in a state of shock and part of me still is. It was like time stood still. It’s so difficult to wrap my head around this freak accident that claimed his life and some things we will just never understand. How could God take such a beautiful soul from us?!! He’s gone to soon. There is not one day that goes by that I don’t think about and miss him. I kept going back to the Red Lion last week, part of me was looking for him since we would meet up there. I fully expected him to pull up, park in his usual parking space, walk through the patio door and greet us with his warm smile and laughter. We shared a running, inside joke where we called each other “Surly” and that’s how we always addressed each other. He was a creature of habit and ordered a Bitburger with a side of ice and a tall glass of water.He limited himself to two beers because he didn’t believe and drunk driving. After his two beers he would order soda water with a splash of cran, because he liked to hang out and chit chat with friends. He was always fully available and present. We often blamed him for the water crisis in LA because he drank so much water!!!!

    There will never be another Jonathan Slater and I will treasure all the memories we shared until I too draw my last breath. He was a rare breed and I’m grateful to have had him as my best friend. I hope you’re at peace and I hope that your spirit will stay close to us and give us comfort. I love you always,Surly!!!!!


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