Jay was the second child and first son born to Paul and Julie Ligda and the first male born in the sixth recorded generation of Ligdas. His first home was at 6013 Joni Court in Pollock Pines, California. He was four when his parents separated in 1970. Custody was given to his mother who moved to Santa Clara where Jay was raised.
Jay was a quiet, reserved child. He meekly obeyed his older sister to whom he often looked for direction in play. He had an early speech deficiency with difficulty in pronouncing some sounds, e.g., his y’s sounded like l’s so “you” would come out “lou.” He took special classes in phonics to correct his speech.
Jay attended Millikin School in Santa Clara. His teachers described him as, “always trying to do his best.” He was an above average student earning occasional merit certificates, but he was slow to mix socially with the other students. His fourth grade teacher observed: “Even though he quite often stays close to the classroom, he mixes more freely and appears to enjoy the companionship of other students.” He went on to Curtis Intermediate School where he developed considerable interest in science and mathematics, but had difficulty with reading and spelling. He maintained above average grades. For a while, in 1974, he participated in Cub Scout activities and became more active socially, but he preferred activities he could do alone. Among his interests were drawing, bicycling, and river rafting, and skiing.
Jay attended Santa Clara High School. His strongest subjects were drafting, graphics, and computer science; his weakest subjects were literature and composition. While in high school, he socialized more and developed a few close friends. He participated in cross country running and entered several races with his father, first running the San Francisco Bay to Breakers in 1982. He was part of what became an annual family brunch after the race at Charley Browns near the San Francisco Airport. He continued to enjoy bicycling and frequently organized many trips with his friends to areas in and around Santa Clara County. He also took scuba diving lessons and later, while in college, made several dives off the Monterey Coast.
Jay graduated in 1984 with a 3.25 grade point average. He earned a Bank of America Achievement Award for computer studies, won the David Cass Memorial Scholarship as the outstanding Industrial Arts student, and took first place honors in drafting. Shortly after his graduation, Jay joined some friends on a camping trip to Yosemite Park where he would have his only scrape with the law. Jay was drinking beer near an area where there was a disturbance. When police came to investigate, they were greeted with calls of “rookie pigs.” Altho Jay was not one of the persons causing the disturbance, he was questioned. One officer concluded that Jay should be arrested, “to protect them, other park visitors, as well as the public peace,” because he was a minor who “had at least remained in a disorderly group whose behavior invited retaliation and . . . had been blocking a public sidewalk.” Jay was booked for public drunkenness and given a breath test which indicated a blood alcohol level of .04% – far below what was needed to establish his guilt. The charge was eventually dismissed, but only after Jay spent a day in custody during which he said he was treated and fed well.
Jay entered San Jose State University in the fall of 1984. Altho he had developed his interests in computers and in engineering designs, he had no clear career objective. He felt he would develop career plans as he worked toward his degree. He lived at home and helped support himself by working at The Hickory Tree BarBQ, a fast food restaurant nearby. His father urged him to join a fraternity. Jay tried – even pledged – but did not enjoy fraternity life and dropped out before he was initiated.
He maintained a B average in his college studies, but his graduation was delayed because, as his interests changed, he changed majors. He took a course in photography which he developed into a hobby he followed with a passion for many years. In the summer of 1985, Jay and a few of his friends flew to Vancouver, B.C. and bicycled home. The 1,178 mile trip took 13 days.
During his 1985-86 school year, Jay became interested in an exchange study program which would allow credits for courses taken abroad. He saved over $1,000 and, in the fall of 1986, flew to London where he met other American students in the program. Jay joined some of them beginning the academic year with a tour of Netherlands, Belgium, and France. Jay’s program was in London. He found the academic program: “. . . pretty easy. It’s not like regular school. I guess they’re easier on us since we are in a different country and that’s a learning experience on it’s own.” He loved London:
“London’s a neat place. I’ve seen lots of plays and have tickets to see “Cats” on December 4 . . . I haven’t done much sight seeing in London. It seems more like my home instead of a place I’d want to see. Maybe I’ll get around someday.”
He did get around the rest of the country:
“I spent a weekend on the Isle of Wight, a weekend pony trekkin in Wales, and I just got back from a weekend in Scotland. I went to Loch Ness and didn’t see Nessie. I’m also going to spend a weekend in Stratford and I hope to get to Ireland also.”
Jay didn’t get to Ireland, but he did use his Christmas break to join a student tour of Italy which took him to Rome, Naples, Pompeii, Florence, Pisa, Venice, Milan, and Capri. “I had a great time. I got back with no money and had to go a week without money until the check I had cleared. When it does, I’ll have enough to last the rest of my trip.”
On his return to the United States, Jay transferred from San Jose State University to Humboldt State University where his brother, John, was enrolled. He made his final change of majors to industrial technology and set his sights on graduating in two years. He enjoyed the rural atmosphere of Humboldt County and the people. He continued to do well in his studies.
In the summer of 1987, Jay joined his father and stepmother on a trip to Guatemala and Costa Rica. While in Antigua, he and his father climbed Mt. Agua. After a light breakfast, they drove to within 5,000 feet of the summit and started off without the precaution of taking water. They were fortunate to find a native with a barrel of rain water at the top. Jay remembers that drink as the: “best water I’ve ever tasted.”
In the summer of 1988, Jay joined a friend, Yvette, on another Pacific Coast bicycle trip from Arcata to San Diego. The 967 mile trip took 16 days. He spent the balance of the summer working at the Hickory Pit to help finance his next year in college which would be at the University of Southern Maine on a domestic student exchange program which allowed him credits at Humboldt State for courses he completed. Jay election of an exchange school was partially based on the distance from California. He felt driving to and from Maine offered a great opportunity to see the country.
He drove through the northern part of the country visiting friends he had come to know at the University and other exchange students who were sharing the experience. On the trip back, he visited his Uncle Jon in Florida, Disneyworld, New Orleans, San Antonio, the Grand Canyon, and Las Vegas (where he lost more than he should have). In between, he completed another school year successfully. He returned to California sporting a beard.
In the summer of 1989, Jay worked with his father and brother in building 620 Indiana in Vallejo. The building project fascinated him and allowed him some practical experience in applying much of what he was learning in school. The building wasn’t completed when he had to return for the 1989-90 school year. Jay used some of his earnings to buy a small house trailer which was to serve as his home in Arcata for the next two years.
Jay finished college, graduating with his B.S. in Industrial Technology on May 10, 1991. He sold his trailer and moved to Sebastopol, California where he planned to continue his education at Sonoma State University. To support himself, he took a position as a counselor to troubled children at Willow Creek Residential Center in Santa Rosa. He was to remain on the job less than a year when emotional problems forced him to leave.
Jay moved to Oakland where he rented a room at 1004 Arlington Street. He enrolled at John F. Kennedy University taking night courses in counseling while supporting himself with a series of jobs and student loans. On June 16, 1996, he earned his Master’s Degree in Holistic Health Education.
In the years that followed, Jay worked to establish his own business designing web pages and was moderately successful, particularly when he developed a single client who provided so much work that he enlisted help from his brother, John, to supply the work product. Unfortunetly, that client ran out of money and abandoned his project owing both Jay and John several thousand dollars that was never paid, but before that occurred Jay and John bought their Aunt Susan’s half interest in the Miguel Street property in San Francisco. Both moved into the building and became partners with their father who owned the other half.
Jay filled much of his leisure time dancing.
Jay entered many triathelete competitions.
Near fatal experience in 2011 when he became separated from rescue boat and was unable to fight bay currents between Alcatraz and San Francisco. Was in the water 2 ½ hours before locating small fishing boat whose crew took him on board.