Jeffrey Paul “Buzz” Yanz, age 63, of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, passed away unexpectedly September 16th, 2020. Jeff was born on May 9th, 1957 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the son of Robert and Patricia (Taylor) Yanz. He graduated Valley High School in West Des Moines in 1975. Jeff joined the Army and was part of 1st Cavalry Division of Ft. Hood, Texas and deployed to Wiesbaden, Germany. He reached the rank of sergeant before an honorable discharge after four proud years.
He then met the love of his life, Debra Janssen, and they were married in Waterloo, Iowa on February 18th, 1984. During their wonderful 36 years together they were blessed with two amazing children, Ashley Marie in 1984 and Austin Robert in 1986.
Jeff and Debra moved around for several years as he worked management jobs in the restaurant industry until settling down in Lee’s Summit, Missouri for the last 30 years. Most recently, he worked at HyVee.
Jeff loved his family greatly. He was happiest spending time around the house doing the things he loved-from small projects to large, and as he would say “just putzing in the yard”. He was always moving and doing and improving things. He enjoyed lifting weights, exercise, and relaxing in the sunshine by the pool.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Robert and Patricia.
Jeff is survived by his wife, Debra Yanz; his daughter Ashley Yanz; his son Austin Yanz (and partner Kari Anderson) ; his brothers Greg, Craig, and Doug and his sister Pam.
Lee’s Summit, MO 64063
Lee’s Summit, MO 64063
I would like to say to Deb, Ashley, Austin and the extended Yanz family how sorry I am to hear of Jeff’s passing.
Jeff lived a block away from me growing up in West Des Moines. As adults, we both ended up in Lee’s Summit. We bumped into each other frequently. I just saw him a couple of weeks ago and he looked extremely fit and happy. That’s why his death is such a shock. Like a gut punch. I simply cannot believe it. He was so strong.
As kids, we played sports together (he was a great pitcher) , worked in the same restaurants, attended the same schools and had a lot of the same friends. We even double dated a few times. All of the familiar sights and sounds of our little suburb were shared experiences. Jeff was familiar too.
As an adult, Jeff was exactly like he was when he was a kid. Good natured, great sense of humor, steady and hard working. Above all else, he was a family man. He loved his wife and children and was devoted to them. He was a great guy, friend and man.
I will remember Jeff for the rest of my life. I’ll dream he is on the pitchers mound confidently smiling at the next batter or maybe he’ll be telling me about some new lawn mower he was thinking about getting. Or maybe he’ll just be standing there smiling with a good story ready to go. I’ll never forget. Rest in peace my old friend.
Jeff was a much loved little brother. He always had a sparkling smile ready to share! He was a devoted family man and had the family trait of enjoying ‘putzing around the house’. Must be in the Yanz DNA. He would often text me the menu of the family meal
he had planned for the evening, or photos of his most recent project. It hurts to know he is no longer in this world, but I am so blessed to have had him as a brother. I wish we had spent more time together as adults. My heart goes out to Debbie, Ashley and Austin. God bless!
Buzzy was a classmate of mine. We used to knock around with each other when we were very young in West Des Moines. My brother Tom and I mostly. My deepest condolences to the family of my childhood friend. Rest in Peace Buzzy.
I am so very sorry for your loss; prayers for peace & comfort. I did not know Buzzy well but we grew up together in West Des Moines and went to high school together, and you did not have to know him well to know he was a friendly, stand-up guy. The whole family was well known and highly regarded for as long as I can remember. During this pandemic hard things are even harder, may the prayers of your family and friends lift and comfort you.
Jeff was such a wonderful caring person. He would do anything for anybody, and never asked for anything in return. He was a true hero and will certainly be missed by me and anyone who knew him. My heart and prayers go out to Deb, Ashley, Austin, and the rest of his family and friends.
My deepest condolences to Jeff’s family. It was a privilege to work with Jeff for the past couple years.
I am very sorry to hear about Buzz. He will be greatly missed in the old neighborhood on 17th street in West Des Moines. “Buzzy” as we called him back in the day was a great guy, always a smile on his face. We had a lot of fun playing backyard football together! My condolences to his immediate family and the rest of the Yanz family.
I’m very sorry to hear about your loss.
Very sorry to hear that Jeff passed away. I remember playing football with him in the back yard at West Des Moines. Watching little league games and sitting far away from his screaming mother as she tried to coach from the stands. Praying for the best for his family. Stay safe.
Like me, so many members of the VHS class of ’75 are shocked and saddened to hear of Jeff’s death. He was “Buzzy” to us, and he was a much loved member of our group. It’s not an overstatement to say he was a handsome heart-throb for many of the girls in the class when we were growing up. His good looks, his athleticism, his ever-present smile and most of all his gentle spirit were only some of the qualities we admired in him.
I had the good fortune to connect with him again a few years ago for dinner with his beautiful wife and his brother Duff at a restaurant Buzzy was managing. I’m so grateful for that time. I watched him with his gifts of hospitality making sure everything was “just right” and also got to see how much his staff respected and admired him. I specifically remember him talking about his two children and grinning ear to ear.
His life was too short but Jeff made his mark. I love seeing the “putzing in the yard” comment and it’s obvious Buzzy had a skill most of us don’t: he lived in the moment. What a gift in a crazy world!
To Debra, Austin and Ashley I’m praying for comfort for you all during this time of deep sadness. Please know we send you love and deep sympathy from those of us who knew him “back in the day.”
My deepest condolences to Deb, Ashley , & Austin. Deb & Jeff opened thier home & hearts to me when Ashley & I were seniors. They have a family love & connection for each other that I had never experienced. They were able to show me an awesome family life & marriage that I strive to create in my own home & life still today. Both Jeff & Deb are rare people in your life that are truly genuine, loving, good hearted people & the world will miss having his fun positive energy.
He will be missed deeply to all that knew him.
To all the fun we had you wete the one neighbor who moved away that I missed the most I loved you like a brother thanks for confirming back and visiting the old neighborhood I’ll never forget that day you pulled up on your motorcycle I was so happy to see you I ran down and gave you a hug. Someone please let me know when the services are I would very much like to attend.
So sorry for your lost. When Jeff started Applebee’s, I was his kitchen trainer, then he was my kitchen manager for a while,before he got lee summit. He was kind and a very jovial person. He will be sorely missed. All the best for the family .
I was very saddened to hear of the loss of Jeff or “Buzzy,” as that’s what everyone would call him at Valley High. He was such a nice guy, who always had a lot of friends. My thoughts and prayers go out to Buzzy’s family in your time of sorrow.
To the family of Jeff:
I’m so sorry for your loss. I worked for Jeff at Applebee’s in LS. Started as a hostess then to server back in maybe 1996. I was at Applebee’s for around 2 years. During that time I was lucky to be an employee of Jeff’s. He was a a great man and a great boss.
He held us accountable and was understanding at the same time.
Several years later I moved back to LS and would stop by for lunch while he was working. It was so nice to catch up with him and share the news of my marriage and pics of my at the time 2 kids.
You will be missed by so many Jeff, including me ?
Always a pleasure running into Jeff. I only knew him vaguely, but encountered him often at Applebee’s and regularly at Hyvee. My deepest condolences. I pray good memories might help to uplift those affected. More and more often, I’m reminded I need to pay more attention to those who are close; we aren’t guaranteed anything beyond this moment.
Debra and family,
I’m so stunned and sorry for your loss. Jeff was such an amazing guy and I truly enjoyed working with him and getting to know him. You’re in my thoughts and prayers.
Thank you for all your kind words about my brother Buzzy, it is hard for all of us to come to terms with the fact that he is not with us any more, it is devastating! My family, along with Uncles, Aunts, cousins, nieces, and nephews, And there are many, will keep him in our hearts forever!
Growing up in WDM was just The Best! Playing so many sports with Buzzy, and all his friends were the best memories. And yes, he was a great pitcher, he struck me out 3 times in one game, and in the family station wagon on the way home , I said thanks, and he just looked at me with that Buzzy grin, and said, just doing my job, brother! When he played baseball for the WDM American Legion team, after each home game the whole team would come over for some cold beverages, and a swim in our pool, those were some really fun times!
Buzzy was known for loving DQ, which was right down on the street on Grand Ave. I stopped there one day on the way to Holiday Pool for swim team practice, and asked if Buzzy had been there that day, and they said, oh yes, he had been there twice already!! He was just nuts about Dairy Queen!
I could go on and on about all our friends who would knock on our window early in the morning during the summer to go fishing at the sand pits near the Penn Dixie plant and the crazy times we had, those were all great memories, especially the time we stuck a snake in Kevin Housby’s tackle box, that was the best!
Thanks to All of You for your thoughts and prayers for Buzzy, Deb, Ashley, and Austin, he will Never Be Forgotten!!
RIP My Brother!! Craig (Beaver) Yanz
my condolences to your family. I remember Buzz well. He was quite a looker. God must have needed him so sorry.
Deepest sympathy to the family Buzzy Yanz, he was a great guy and classmate Jerry Holmgaard
Jeff was so awesome. It was a great pleasure to get to know Jeff while working at Applebee’s. I first met Jeff when he was the KM at Metcalf. Jeff was the only guy I knew that asked me why I’d slept in so late when I’d woken up at 6am.
My nickname for Jeff was “The Colonel” because he always kept everyone in tip top shape. Big guy you will be missed.
So so sorry about your loss . He was a great guy enjoyed working with him. I know how hard it is to lose a loved one. My thoughts and prayers are with the family.
Dear Yanz family,
I am so sorry to hear about the loss of Jeff. I personally met him only a handful of times, but from my time working with Deb, Ashley, and Austin at Hy-Vee, I heard nothing but good things and fun stories. I will be thinking of all of you during this incredibly difficult time and sending you love and support.
Katherine Becchina (Kat Hataway)
My deepest condolences to you and your family. I worked with Jeff and I am heart broken of the news. Jeff was a great man and I will never forget him. RIP Sir.
So sorry that this happened to you. Jeff was an amazing guy to be around. He was funny, kind and caring. Always thinking of you guys and praying for you guys! Jeff will forever be remembered!
I saw Phyllis at the store today (Wed, 9/23) and she told me about your husband. Please accept my sincere condolences. I will be praying for you and your family.
Dearest Deb and family,
Our hearts and love to you, and your family. There are no word that can convey our sorrow for the loss of an amazing, husband, father and individual. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.
Dan Scott and Sandy Green
I didn’t know Jeff but went to school with Greg and Pam my heart and prayers go out to family and friends
My belated condolences to the Yanz family. I just recently (May, 2021) learned of Jeff’s passing. I went to high school with Jeff. My older sister had a huge crush on him. As an underclassman at Valley, Jeff gave me a fair amount of good-natured grief. We became friends playing on the football team. After high school we worked together as cooks. We probably worked several hundred shifts together and we had a lot of fun at work and in the hours afterward.
One night me, Buzzy and Bailey were out 4 wheeling in Bailey’s jeep. We got stuck in the mud and ended up having an epic mud fight. All three of us were covered head-to-toe in mud. It was a blast.
Years later I ran into Jeff at a few social events. At one of those events I called him Buzzy and he corrected me – with a wry smile he said – it’s Jeff. He’ll always be Buzzy to me. Good bye old friend. You had a positive impact on the people that knew you and I will never forget you.