Obituaries: Jay Noonan

  • by BAR staff
  • Wednesday July 20, 2022
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Jay Noonan
Jay Noonan

October 23, 1932 — July 8, 2022

A giant has passed on with the sad death of Jay Noonan. Jay was one of the early contributors to the Bay Area Reporter with entertainment reviews for his close friend, the late founding publisher Bob Ross. But Jay was more than a journalist. He was one of the early heroes of Polk Street when the Polkstrasse was the gay neighborhood of San Francisco.

He worked as a doorman for bars like Kimo's. For a few years, Jay ran the Grubstake restaurant, flipping not only delicious burgers, but also making the best omelet in town, whether with cheese or chili.

Young people listened when Jay talked, whether he was telling stories about Judy Garland or why he went by the moniker, Ethyl — because one of his favorites was the great Ethel Merman. Probably the most poignant wisdom he passed on was to Coy Muza, a doorman at Reflections who recalled: "He once told me never to judge a person's smile by the number of teeth in his mouth, just the reason behind it."

Jay's closest friend was the late Chester Lauritzen. They traveled the world together, whether it was the docks of New York or the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.

One can only imagine bells are ringing somewhere because an angel just got his wings. Of course, Chester is probably telling Jay, "My wings are prettier."

Jay's close friend, Robert Bruce, said a celebration of Jay's life will be planned for the future, probably on opening day of the San Francisco 49ers' season.

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