Gerald Raymond “Jerry” Green died peacefully at home February 12, 2020 after a 4-month struggle with digestive complications. He was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses since February 1973 and served his God faithfully until the end. Jerry was born at home July 30, 1939 to Hazel Riel in Boyne City, Charlevoix County, Michigan. Between his father, Claude Green, and his mother, he had a large family of step-siblings, 12 in all. He was the youngest of the children.
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Raised in East Jordan, where he started school, he spent his high school years in Boyne City, where he acquired the nickname “Jake” and attended Boyne City High. He was on the Rambler track, football and basketball teams. He loved to run and do field events and the track team, known as “the thinclads” was the State Class C champion in 1957 and 1958. They regularly set records at the CMU and Petoskey relays. The 1957 Rambler football team finished 7-0 that year and was voted the Detroit Times #1 team of the year. The basketball team was also outstanding, having notable battles with Harbor Springs and great seasons overall.
He graduated in 1958, a Rambler for life, and worked for his mentor Bill (Inga) Casper, where he learned the dry cleaning trade. Bill’s son, Rick (Kay) was a best friend, along with Carl (Sue) Charon, Bob (Kathy) Christensen, Morrie (Sue) Hobbs, Jim (Cam) Camburn, Steve Williams, Ron Holowasko and Doug Newville.
In the mid-sixties, he and his friend, Al (Bobbie) Towne got on a bus and went to Grand Rapids looking for work. He was hired by the Salhaney family and managed Uptown Cleaner’s flagship location on Division Avenue for several years, being the company’s youngest manager. Later, in the 70’s he began his long career at Clipper Belt Lacer (now Flexico Steel), where he worked first in the plant for many years then moving into Marketing Support.
In the 70’s he began to study the Bible and he dedicated his life to Jehovah and was baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. He studied with Roger Schopp and was part of the Home Acres and then Grandville Congregations. In 1973 shortly after his baptism, Jerry said, “Here I am! Send me!” (Isa 6:8), and he moved to the newly-formed Central Congregation in Grand Rapids and became a ministerial servant with the new group as a founding member. He met Margaret Lewis, who adopted him as a son. He became part of the extended Pittman-Lewis family, renting the 3rd floor of Margaret’s lovely Heritage Hill home and trying to help Margaret keep an eye on her aging mother, Nonnie, and daughter Shelley, who was on the go as a pioneer. Margaret was battling cancer and he would often talk to her late into the night on the phone until her pain meds took effect and she would go to sleep. He’d then get up and go to work at 6 in the morning. Later Carole, Shelley’s sister, moved into the house with her children, and Jerry became an “uncle” to Daniel (Vonetta), Angelea (Gregory) and young Margaret. Sister Lewis died in 1978. She wanted Jerry to stay until Shelley got married, but a young sister named Nancy Massey changed that plan and he and Nancy became a family of their own November 22, 1980, being one of several couples making up the “class of 1980 newly-weds”. They loved riding around town in his red Caddy listening to Barry White. They later became “Uncle Jerry and Aunt Nancy” to even more wonderful young ones as Jeff (Dena), Chris, Amber (Arnez), Austin and Preston also became a regular part of their lives. They thoroughly enjoyed their role in helping to care for the kids.
He and Nancy had wonderful, service experiences over the years, serving first as an elder at Central, and then later serving as publishers at the East and then Cascade Congregations, where they served from 1996 until 2013, and then finally “coming home” that year to the Downtown Congregation serving with many old and dear friends. Together, they worked on local Kingdom Hall projects at Central and Wyoming/West and Jerry helped construct the drain field at the Holt Assembly Hall. Jerry supported Nancy as she regular pioneered for 15 of those years and together they had the privilege of being caregivers to Nancy’s mother, Hattie, as she dealt with the sad effects of Alzheimer’s disease down to her death in 2009. He fulfilled a promise he made to her mother the day he and Nancy married. He retired from Clipper after 37 years of service, walking out the door with his friend, Danny (Rose) Brewer, and leaving Nancy to punch him out for the last time.
Jerry and Nancy continued making lasting memories going to conventions, cruising the Caribbean with friends like Scott and Carla Jackson, being together at home and in the congregation. He was willing to do whatever he could to help the brothers and young people in the congregation, encouraging them to stay on course and serve Jehovah with the same joy and gratitude he had. He really enjoyed celebrating anniversaries with friends, and hosting the “NoReason” events in the past few years. He loved being home watching Lions football, suffering mightily as a fan, fussing at the TV. His buddy, Brian (Tara) Kinsey, tried to convert him into a Packers fan, and almost succeeded. Jerry had seen the last Lions championship team in 1957 and, while realistic, kept hoping. He enjoyed hosting draft parties for the NFL and NBA drafts, and Super Bowls with Nancy and the boys. Especially fun times were the annual “boys only” trips to Pistons games at the Palace in the 80’s and 90’s with Sam Mattaliano. Nancy and Christie were ‘honorary boys’ for those events and we all had a great time. His wardrobe and shoes were legendary, and he loved thinking outside the box regarding color and style. Shopping and finding ‘a great deal’ were things he never tired of doing.
When public witnessing started in Grand Rapids, Jerry fell in love with and participated in that work regularly for the last several years, up until he got sick in the fall of 2019. He and Nancy started learning Croatian in 2004 and, along with the Blackburns and friends from Lansing, helped start the Croatian Ministry in Grand Rapids, a work they were happy to see grow into a pre-group later.
Jerry had dealt courageously with health problems over the years, having 23 surgeries in all. He bounced back time and again, but his final illness, which began in October 2019, took its toll on him. He fought hard to recover from 2 operations. Finally, he and Nancy made the decision to come home with Hospice Care February 1, 2020 after being hospitalized 4 months. He died in her arms one hour after watching the Pistons lose another one and ridiculing them throughout the game. A beautiful end, the way he wanted.
Ten of Jerry’s siblings, along with his mother, father, Spiritual Mom, Margaret Lewis, home girl Kathy Jo Pittman, in-laws Charles and Hattie Massey, brother-in-law Charles Jr., Spiritual Mentors John Colburn, Sr., Vince (Sally) Palazzo and Floyd Jackson, and his favorite golf watching buddy, Aunt Bessie Mathews have preceded him in death. His wife of 39 years, Nancy, misses him deeply along with his brothers Gordon Stanley and Bill Weeks, sisters-in-law Nelda Stanley and Barb Weeks, brother-in-law Brian (Shirley) Dumas and family, 7 generations of the Weeks-Stanley family, surviving members of the Boyne City Class of 1958 including nephew Don (Kitty) Nessen, special Sisters Shelley Carter, Carole Williams, Willa Williams, his beloved nieces and nephews mentioned above and their children, dear friends Mark (Stephanie) Addison, John (Dawn) O’Neill, Gayle (Pat) Bishop, Joe (Diane) Jackson, the Brewer, Zolicoffer, Kinsey, Kazadi and Johnson families, Jerry (Edie) Pittman, A’Lynne (Sam) Jenkins, Duane (Debra) Pittman, his dear friend Ted (Jean) Harry and his Grand Rapids Congregation family, whom he viewed as a gift from Jehovah. He would say, “If you find the brothers and sisters, you’ve found a home”, and he was loved to the end by them.
His younger friends Josh (Kherington and Bentlee), JustinVF, Amonte, Khapri, Ashanti, Jacqueline, Autumn, Troy, Jr (Samantha), Darcell, Bert, Brian Williams, Preston (Bridgett) Shumpert, Rob LaGrone, LaVel (Destiny) were his heart. You all kept him young and laughing. He wished the best for all of you.
His race is finished, dear friends, and he was a winner. He wanted us all to keep running to win (1 Cor 9:24), so we’ll see each other very soon in Paradise.
March 7 2020 at 2pm. At Holiday Inn 3063 Lake Eastbrook Blvd. Family will greet guests starting at 1.30pm. video and refreshments immediately following. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to Jehovah's Witnesses via the jw.org website, Spectrum Health Hospice. If you wish to assist Nancy with reception costs, please see her directly.