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Gerald J. "Jerry" Pierre, Ph.D.

December 17, 2018
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Gerald John Pierre, Ph.D. "Jerry"

Age 81, passed away on December 17, 2018. Raised in North St. Paul, Minnesota, Jerry played football and tennis before graduating from St. John's University and later earned his master's degree and Ph. D. from the University of Minnesota. He never left college, teaching English for more than 39 years with the last 27 at the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha. Jerry was a talented athlete, gifted scholar and teacher, avid outdoorsman and above all, passionate in his faith and dedicated to serving others. A prominent member of Holy Family Catholic Church for nearly 50 years, Jerry volunteered his time and talent for countless charitable organizations, including community adult education, meal programs and Habitat for Humanity. As he wrote: "God has shown me the need to walk and share with others, to live community, not simply to talk about it."

Jerry is survived by his beloved wife of 56 years, Jean, and their treasured family, including children Elizabeth (John) Minz of West Bend, Wisconsin, Matt (Kristin) Pierre of Edina, Minnesota and Molly Pierre of Franklin, Wisconsin; grandchildren Catherine, Rebecca, Hannah and Megan Minz, and Sydney and Jack Pierre. Jerry is also survived by his sister Lynn "Annie" Pierre; sister-in-law Mary (Peter Christensen) Fox; and nieces and nephew. Jerry was preceded in death by his parents Gerald and Lois Pierre; nephew Andrew Fox: and close cousin Alan Zika.

A memorial mass will be held at Holy Family Catholic Church, 4825 North Wildwood Avenue, Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin, on Friday, December 28, 2018 at 5:00 p.m. Visitation will be held at the church on Friday from 3:00 p.m. until mass, and a reception will immediately follow in the school cafeteria. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Jerry's name to Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity (milwaukeehabitat.org) where plans are underway to help sponsor a new Habitat home in his memory.

 

"Traveling with Parkinson's"

By Jerry Pierre

And it is a journey, not a dead end or a collision. It is, in fact, not so much an end as a beginning. And it is more of a quest than a journey, a quest with challenges along the way - and surprises. It is ultimately a way of discovering who your are and what life is, an opportunity to sort things out. So while it may seem like something has stopped, you are going somewhere. It is a matter of where and how well you travel.

***

Eventually some paradoxes will appear (riddles on a quest), and curses become blessings, weeds wheat, weakness strength. Suffering, for instance, can lead to either of two roads: one of bitterness and isolation, or openness, compassion, and even wisdom. It can at its best soften the heart and open the mind to new perspectives and growth. We all meet people who have suffered in one way or another, and have a serenity and strength about them. To be undefeated or pretend that you are undefeated, on the other hand, at age 45 or 55 can be dangerous indeed with illusions cluttering the road. Sometimes even the status quo at 30, 40, or 50 can lead one to little travel, like being parked at a perpetual rest stop. Suffering is a little like leaving the freeway, detouring on to a secondary road, and even bumping along a gravel path, an opportunity to slow down, enjoy the sights (which can't be observed at 70 mph), and make a few stops to meet people and savor the now of life.

***

So accept the given; even embrace it as your path to knowing yourself and others better and preparing for the next life, the ultimate journey which, who knows, may not include Parkinson's.

 

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I - I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference."

             - Robert Frost

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