Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Goodbye Uncle Jerry

My Uncle Jerry died last night of complications from a lung transplant.

He was an exceptional man in all that he did.  He was best known to me for being a hard ass with his nieces and nephews, but we all knew that he loved us dearly.  He had the most amazing evil laugh and absolutely loved to pick on us and then take us out for candy and ice cream after.

For most of my life, he owned a landscaping business and I remember being young and spending the day with Uncle Jerry on his route (looking back now, I realize that he was babysitting us) and his favorite thing to do was lock the doors and pull out his nose hairs and try to wipe them on us while he was driving.  He loved hearing us scream and would laugh his evil laugh.  We all thought it was pure torture at the time but now I remember it fondly.

I also remember running home from elementary school to try and catch Uncle Jerry at my house landscaping.  I would beg him to let me cut the grass, run the vacuum, and the blower.  He used to pay me $2, which I thought back then was a fortune.  Looking back, I realize that I was doing most of the work and getting very little pay but then I realize that he had to listen to my dad complain constantly that the lines on the lawn were crooked.  I now think I should have paid Uncle Jerry!

I especially loved how easy Uncle Jerry made our relationship transition from young niece to young adult.  Uncle Jerry didn't treat me like a child, he spoke to me like an adult when I finally became one.  He respected my opinions and abilities.  But that didn't mean he still didn't pick on me and laugh that evil laugh when I'd squeal or whine.

He will be mostly missed in the community for his life commitment to wrestling.  He traveled the world as an official, he started a youth wrestling club, and he coached high school wrestling as well.  Wrestling was his life's work and it fulfilled him.  We couldn't have a conversation without him dropping some obscure wrestling term, talking about a wrestler that I'd never heard of, and telling stories about wrestling that made very little sense to anyone who wasn't enmeshed in the wrestling world, which I definitely was not.  His dedication inspired me to be a better coach when I started coaching in my early 20's.  We coached different sports but our style was very similar.

But what has the most impact on me is the fact that there are so many people in our community who know his name.  Uncle Jerry coached people who then went on to have children that he also coached.  He influenced generations.  His commitment and unparalleled generosity will never be matched.  He constantly opened his house, his wallet, and most importantly, his heart to so many. 

He is going to be greatly missed and I was lucky to have him in my life.

Jerry winning the Head Coaches Award in February 2015

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