Jerry is survived by his wife of 51 years, Sally Gneiser; and his three sons, David (Lorrie) of Fond du Lac, Doug (Mary) of Hermosa Beach, Calif., and Joe (Dawn) of Greensboro, N.C. He cherished and adored his seven grandchildren: Drew, Sarah (Jacob Baranski), Emily, Ryan, Erin, Audrey, and Ben.
Jerry was born on Feb. 8, 1931, in Fond du Lac, the son of Rudolph and Loretta (Gilgenbach) Gneiser. Jerry's siblings are Patricia Henke of Wauwatosa, David Gneiser (deceased) and Yvonne Friedman of Las Vegas, Nev. Jerry had many wonderful nephews and nieces.
At Fond du Lac Goodrich High School, Jerry was a star athlete on the football field, the basketball court, and especially on the baseball field. He was signed to a minor league baseball contract after high school. Jerry played the catcher's position for several minor league teams while earning his bachelor's degree at University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.
Jerry honorably served his country in the U.S. Marine Corps, as a First Lieutenant, during four years of active service. Jerry's greatest military maneuver was finding and wooing his sweetheart, Sally Todd, during a fellow officer's wedding, in Arlington, Va.
Jerry and Sally were married at Fort Meyer, Va., on Aug. 16, 1958. They remained sweethearts for over 51 years. All three of their sons were commissioned military officers.
After leaving the Marines, Jerry held several positions: Goodrich High School teacher and baseball coach in Fond du Lac, A.C. Nielsen Co. in Green Bay, West Boylston Manufacturing Co. in Montgomery, Ala., and Vanity Fair in Atmore, Ala., before returning to Fond du Lac. In 1969, Jerry joined his brother Dave in running Fond du Lac Bumper Exchange, a business started by their father Rudy in 1956, and is currently owned and operated by the third Gneiser generation, Jerry's son, David. Employees and customers knew Jerry as meticulous, gentle, and fair.
Many will remember Jerry as their coach for Fond du Lac's American Legion Baseball team. He was passionate about coaching and teaching his players that when he yelled, "Hit the ball hard," that commitment applied to more than just baseball. Jerry was thrown out of more than his share of games when his players were not treated fairly he was their staunch defender.
Jerry was always active in his community. He was a longtime member of St. Patrick's Church, twice elected to the Fond du Lac School Board, participated in Marriage Encounter for 18 years, served on the Board of Directors for the St. Francis Home, was a member of the Chancellor's Board of Advisors at University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, and served on the Resident's Council at the Sierra Winds Retirement Community in Peoria, Ariz.
Jerry had a lifelong commitment to studying history, discussing politics, telling jokes, playing golf, gardening, reading, traveling, and enjoying his family. Jerry's friends and neighbors knew he always had an open heart, a warm smile and a kind word to say. Jerry could talk to anyone and often did and could make each one feel special. On the golf course, he would pull out his 9-iron to pitch it 140 yards over the water to the green and would say, "No guts, no glory."
A memorial service was held on March 18, 2010, in Peoria, Ariz.
The family is planning a future event in Fond du Lac this summer, to celebrate Jerry's life.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Jerry's name should be sent to the ALS Association Arizona Chapter, 4643 E. Thomas Rd., Suite No. 1, Phoenix, AZ, 85018, or visit www.alsaz.org.
Mach Funeral Chapel and Crematory is serving the family in Fond du Lac.