Sadly, our SMB Nation family and the SMB IT community lost a friend and colleague who was both central and dedicated to the industry he loved so much. Jeremiah Ilges, SMB Nation’s Director of Business Development & Strategic Relationships, quietly passed away at home yesterday afternoon, with his adoring wife, Brook, by his side. Jeremiah, who is also survived by his three daughters, succumbed to Telomere Disease, which unfortunately caused many of his organs to give out.
Pictured: Jeremiah Ilges (second from right) receiving his SMB 150 award in May 2012.
For those of you who weren’t aware of Jeremiah’s battle, or never had the chance to meet or speak with him, his journey has been one that spans several years, with the most defining moments occurring this summer when a bone marrow donor was found, giving him the chance of a lifetime. While we never met formally in person, Jeremiah and I had exchanged countless emails and spoke on the phone several times during the most significant moments of his illness.
I can recall a conversation he and I had right before the July 4th weekend (chronicled in a blog post here), in which he had been informed that after 15 Years of fighting Aplastic Anemia, he was told by his medical team that his bone marrow had completely failed, and he would therefore need an immediate transplant. SMB Nation quickly took action, and we informed the community of Jeremiah’s plight, so that a donor could be located.
During our chat, Jeremiah sounded very tired, and at one point excused himself so he could continue the conversation while lying down on his couch. I asked him how he felt, and if he was in pain. Instead of complaining or looking for sympathy, he said this, which I feel is worth repeating once again: “I can either be the disease or define it…we work ourselves so hard, and maybe some people will think now that they shouldn’t work as much and that if something starts to bother them, to go to the doctor and get it checked. If telling my story helps someone else, then that’s definitely a good thing.”
One week after Jeremiah and I spoke, my son Henry was born, a full month early, and I was busy getting acclimated to having a newborn, so Jeremiah and I didn’t speak as much. However, I found out a month later, while still on my maternity leave, that a match bone marrow donor had been found, giving Jeremiah the chance of a lifetime. His surgery date had been set for the beginning of November, so that he and Brooke could attend the SMB Nation Fall Conference during the middle of October. However, Jeremiah ended up not being able to attend, due to the advice of his doctors; instead we Skyped with him during Harry’s keynote address during the event.
Following his transplant, I was able to chat with Brook, and she mentioned how Jeremiah was in good spirits, and that he really was looking forward to getting back to work. During our conversation, she said: “He is just taking it one day at a time…he really just wants to go back to work; he is one of those rare souls that loves his job and what he does every day, and he misses everyone at SMB Nation…it was quite a task to keep him off his phone while he was in the hospital!”
Sadly, my next conversation with Brook was yesterday via email and Facebook, when she informed us that Jeremiah had left us, and that he would no longer have to suffer as a result of his battle with Aplastic Anemia. While all of us here are deeply saddened here at SMB Nation, Harry Brelsford, our Founder and Chairman, summed it up best, when I asked him about Jeremiah as both a friend and colleague. “We were very sad that Jeremiah had to take a medical leave (of absence) in July,” Brelsford said. “We gladly kept his job open for him, and we were hopeful and optimistic that he would return to work with us this spring. While we will miss him greatly, it also brings us comfort to celebrate his life and to know that he is no longer in pain and suffering.”
Some of you might remember that for 2013, SMB Nation chose AdoptOurFamily as its charity, in order to help Jeremiah and his family with the many expenses incurred as a result of his illness. Now, more than ever, Jeremiah’s family will be in need of assistance. That is why we are asking our community members to help us out by going to: http://www.adoptourfamily.com/, and making a donation. It doesn’t have to be a huge amount, as every little bit will help the Ilges family during this difficult process.