In the early 1960s, Jerry was a draftsman on the Otis Elevator team that designed the Skylon Tower’s “Yellow Bug” exterior elevators. Later he owned and operated fabric and upholstery stores in St. Catharines and Hamilton, including Mark Four Fabrics on Ottawa Street.
Jerry was naturally good-natured, jovial, outgoing, talkative, and sociable. He could strike up friendly conversations with everyone he met. The son of Polish immigrants, Jerry was proud of his Polish heritage and loved polka dancing and music, and celebrated Dyngus Day. His wide range of interests also included organic gardening, racing and classic cars, fishing, old movies, nature, especially trees, reading, cooking and antiques. In the early 1980s, Jerry and his mother-in-law Doris Nolte (who adored each other) wrote and traded a multitude of poems full of witty, humorous zingers made in jest – such were his talents.
He was an avid organic gardener for many years, enjoying the Royal Botanic Gardens, attending Hamilton Open Garden events, and was featured in an August 13, 1999 Hamilton Spectator article titled “Roll out the barrels” for his gardening in containers, which he continued into his 80s on a smaller scale by growing delicious organic potted tomatoes on the terrace until 2020.
Jerry lost his father to pneumonia at the age of three and was raised by his widowed mother. Perhaps growing up missing his own father is why he himself was so devoted to fatherhood. He was an attentive, practical and fun-loving father with his two children, taking our family on long trips in the fully equipped motorhome he designed and built himself from a used school bus in the 1970s. He took us to explore the natural beauty of Ontario, Eastern Canada and Florida on countless family trips. He built us a fort to play next to the garage, rolled up his trouser legs to build sand castles with us, carried us asleep in our pajamas from the car to our beds when arriving home from the drive-in (until Lori giggles while pretending to be asleep – a fond memory of him); taught us to sledge, ride bikes, fish, build things, solve problems, think critically, use a dictionary regularly, fix cars and drive a stick shift . He was always there to catch us when we fell, like he innately knew that being a great father, devoted husband and family man, and our rock was the most important thing in life. He did all of this and more. Jerry will be greatly missed.
Jerry’s family would like to thank the doctors, nurses and staff at Hamilton General Hospital and Juravinski Hospital. Jerry’s beloved hometown of Hamilton is blessed with world-class, caring doctors and hospital staff.
The cremation has taken place. Donations to the Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation, Juravinski Hospital, Royal Botanical Gardens or planting a tree would be appreciated.
Published by The Hamilton Spectator on January 28, 2022.