Peacefully at St. Joseph’s Lifecare Centre on Thurs, April 29, 2021 at the age of 89, Jerry was the beloved husband of 65 years to Mary (Pottie) who resides at Amber Lea Retirement Home in Brantford.
Jerry was the loving father to Nancy (Peter DePodesta) of Brantford and Trish (Michael Browne) of Mississauga. He was grandfather to Shaun and Sabrina Savoy of Beeton, ON and great-grandfather to their children Gwendalyn and Emrys; Justin and Michelle DePodesta of Sydney, NS and great-grandfather to their children Katelyn and Anthony; Andrew DePodesta of Hamilton, ON and great-grandfather to his son Niko. Jerry is also survived by several nieces and nephews with special mention for Glenn (MaryAnne) and Darlene Hanselman.
Jerry was predeceased by his brothers Donald (Jim) and his wife Marilyn and Ronald Hanselman; his beloved parents Louise (Strickland) and John. Special mention to his Aunt Myn (Bodfish) who we all loved beyond words.
Jerry served in the Royal Canadian Navy on the HMCS Haida in 1952 and 1953 on her first tour during the Korean War as a cook in the main galley and officer’s galley. HMCS Haida is a Tribal-class destroyer and is the only surviving Tribal-class destroyer out of 27 vessels constructed for the Royal Canadian Navy. The Haida sank more enemy tonnage than any other Canadian warship and as such is commonly referred to as the “Fightingest Ship in the Royal Canadian Navy”. As a result, the HMCS Haida is the Royal Canadian Navy’s most famous ship, has been designated a National Historic Site of Canada and now proudly rests in Hamilton, ON as a museum ship. Jerry was extremely proud of his life and service in the navy.
When Jerry joined the navy, he trained at the Canadian Forces Base Cornwallis in Deep Brook, Nova Scotia. During this time, he met a girl named Mary and the rest is history.
Mary was born in L’Ardoise, Cape Breton Island, NS and was working in Halifax as a switchboard operator at The Lord Nelson Hotel when she met a boy named Jerry through a fellow navy-mate. They were married on May 21, 1955 at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Halifax, NS and spent their honeymoon night at The Nova Scotian Hotel. Ironically, when Trish and Michael stayed in Halifax in 2019, they stayed at the same hotel unknowingly. Trish found the hotel receipt with some old photos, and it was quite a surprise (not as much as seeing the cost of the hotel room that night which was $11.00).
Jerry and Mary lived in Halifax, had a baby girl named Nancy and decided to move their new family to Ontario. They travelled by Via Rail to Brantford where they had another daughter Trish and where they lived the remainder of their lives.
Jerry always held a special place in his heart for “down east” and as a family, many summer vacations were spent driving to Cape Breton. Jerry and Mary continued to vacation there over the years as well as spending time in Vancouver and other destinations.
Jerry worked at Gates Rubber Canada as a shipper/receiver for most of his working life in Brantford where he retired. During this time, he was an excellent 5-pin bowler and played in bowling leagues for many years. He could definitely throw a good spinner.
He also loved going to wresting matches and when baby-sitting Trish, she often had to tag along to those matches which has remained a funny thing all these years later. Nancy was fortunate to have missed all that fun. This was not as funny as how Jerry ‘loved’ the Toronto Maple Leafs for so many years and then ‘pretended’ that he no longer cared, but we know he did.
Jerry’s biggest passion in life after the navy, was his love for Drum and Bugle Corps. It likely started by his love for military bands and he started to follow Drum Corps in Ontario at parades and shows. Nothing made Jerry happier than to travel far and wide to see a Drum Corps show.
When it was time to get his girls involved, Nancy joined St. John’s Girls Drum Corps. It was a proud day for our father when Nancy was appointed Drum Major. If you wanted to see a man with a huge smile, it was when his little girl was leading an amazing group of girls doing his favorite thing. When Trish was old enough, she also joined St. John’s and this organization became one of the most important things in our lives for several years. Jerry loved many other drum corps including De La Salle Cadets, Oakland Crusaders, Toronto Optimists and of course St. John’s all of which many friends were a part of.
Reflecting on our father’s life has been a wonderful walk down memory lane. He was a quiet, reserved man with an infectious smile and a very funny sense of humour. We all have so many “Mary and Jerry” stories, it will be part of his legacy. They had a lot of fun together and after 65 years of marriage, there is nothing but respect for that.
Our mother, Nancy and Trish would like to thank him for being a wonderful husband and father, we will see him on the other side and in military and Drum Corps style salute him!! Love you Hon. Love you Dad. Xo
Thank you to the wonderful staff at Participation House and St. Joseph’s Lifecare who took such amazing care of Jerry.
Thank you to Hugh M. Devereux at Toll Funeral Home who handled our father’s final arrangements, a gentleman who our father respected.
“In Memoriam” donations can be made to “Friends of HMCS Haida” at CanadaHelps.org. “Friends of HMCS Haida” is a registered charity formed to work with Parks Canada to assist in the preservation and maintenance of HMCS Haida as a historic ship, naval memorial and a national historic site. They receive no government funding and rely entirely on memberships and donations for Canadians who believe that preserving Canadas naval history and heritage is important.