“Jerry was prince of a man, always having a gentle smile to share. He was a great example having "two ears and one mouth", listening twice as much compared to speaking."---Lex Veech
I knew Jerry for many years. His barn and grove office were located on the north side of the Howey bridge just East of Hwy 19, tucked in one of the family groves located on Lake Harris. His grove manager, Oliver Thomas had lunch every day at Maggie and Bills on Hwy 19 (it is now a boat storage facility). When Oliver retired his son, Jim assumed the production manager position. The groves were under Loma Linda with three parcels I knew of. There was a large grove on Dewey Robbins Rd. and they had a grove in Indian Town.
I worked closely with Jerry recently when it was time to move from trying to maintain the groves to obtaining an abandoned grove status so the family could have time to market the property.
Jerry loved to bird hunt and every year he would have a nice millet patch at the grove on Lake Harris. I am not a bird hunter, with a gun anyway, but my oldest son loves to shoot dove. One Saturday I had an invitation to join the shooters and was told to bring my son. I had actually won a 12-gauge automatic shotgun at a trade show raffle. I purchased a single shot 12 gauge for my son (he was probably 14 or 15 years old). He insisted we take our Golden Retriever with us. I pointed out that Tess was not trained at all! She spent most of her days at the lake patrolling the shore. That did not matter! My son, Tess and I loaded up and joined the hunt. We each a had a spot and Tess curled up under Alan’s chair. I am sure she had no idea what was going to happen. After everyone was in place the hunt started. Birds had been flying as we moved in and soon one approached Alan. He stood, aimed and fired. Nice shot! The dove crashed to the ground maybe 50 feet in front of him. He turned with a smile and expected to see his retriever eagerly waiting to complete the kill by trotting out to bring back the dead dove. Tess was not on the same page. As soon as the gun exploded, she took off and found a safe place under my truck! That is where she stayed during the entire hunt. It became evident that Alan was a far better shot than his dad. He suggested that if we swapped guns there would be far more doves in our bucket! He was on target, but I was not looking forward to learning how to clean a dove and thought the less we had the better it would be! Tess enjoyed the hunt from under the truck. Alan demonstrated a fantastic ability to shoot darting birds and I finally just watched everyone else try to get their limit. My shoulder was sore anyway.
Jerry and I shared a couple of lunches. One was with a close friend of ours, Chris Blanton. They shared encounters and enjoyed talking about a mutual friend, Tommy Abney. Ed James from Leesburg is another one of Jerry’s close citrus colleagues. Ed worked with Jerry on many projects. He did his best to keep Jerry’s Lake County groves going, but greening won the battle.
I knew Jerry and Barbara were very involved with their church in Maitland. They moved to Eustis a number of years ago, but continued to be active in the Maitland church. The obituary clearly points out his strong faith and involvement in Christian organizations. As Lex points out, Jerry was a quiet man. Always a great gentleman. His father was one of the organizers of Minute Maid. Jerry was on the Growers Administrative Committee for a number of years. Duke Chadwell noted he was a strong member that represented growers in our area on this board. Like so many of you, Jerry was willing to share his time and expertise. I am very fortunate to have had the privilege to know Jerry and have him as a friend.