By Julie Ann Madden
Life caught the Jerry and Marcia Dewey family of Westfield off guard three years ago when he was diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), a progressive disease that makes it hard to breathe.
The couple was making plans for retirement and enjoying watching the next generation of their family grow.
Jerry’s death last month on Feb. 20 also caught the family off guard.
“His death was not expected,” said his wife, Marcia, “and we were totally unprepared for it.”
In October 2011, Marcia had retired from her job while Jerry continued to work at Gabel Farms in Akron.
But in April 2012, under the advice of his doctors, Jerry quit his job.
Marcia became Casey’s General Store in Akron’s “Donut Lady” in July but as 2012 progressed, she found herself spending more and more time at her husband’s hospital bedside.
He’d been in and out of the hospital four or five times in 2012 — the longest stay was 10 days over the Christmas holiday.
But he’d been doing better, said Marcia, explaining the Sunday before he suddenly passed away, Jerry was playing with his nearly two-year-old grandson, Wyatt. As Wyatt danced in front of him, Jerry had been encouraging him, clapping his hands to the same beat as Wyatt danced.
Twice a day Jerry had also been walking to the other end of the block-long Railroad Drive where they live in hopes of gaining even more strength as he recuperated from his last hospital stay.
He was looking forward to the friendly summer lawn-mowing competition he had with their neighbor, Don Dion.
“No matter which one started mowing his lawn first, the other was out there within an hour or so trying to finish his lawn first,” said Marcia. “Jerry liked tinkering with his lawn mower and taking care of our garden. He could hardly wait until the first tomato was ready to eat.”
“This coming June we would have celebrated 25 years of marriage,” said Marcia.
The family is still in shock and struggling as they try to mourn the pillar of husband, father and grandfather Jerry was to them.
The Westfield community is hosting a benefit supper from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m., Thursday, April 11 at the Westfield Community Center to help Marcia with Jerry’s medical and funeral expenses.
The menu includes a choice of spaghetti & meatballs, chicken alfredo or parmesan chicken plus salads, desserts and drinks.
There will also be a silent auction. To donate items and/or to volunteer to help at the benefit supper, call Helen Ulatowski at 712-552-7655.
Jerry and Marcia have three grown children:
• Nathan and his wife, Becky, who live in Akron and have two daughters, Lillian and Margarette. Nathan is a Class of 1998 Akron-Westfield alumnus and works at Mark’s Welding in Richland, S.D., and Becky is a waitress at Akron Jo’s Cafe.
• Missy works at Chick-fil-A in Sioux City. She has one son, Wyatt, and they live in Westfield. She is a member of the Albert E. Hoschler American Legion Post No. 186 Auxiliary; and
• Greg of Akron works for Ziegler-Cat in Sioux City. He is an Akron firefighter and a member of the FFA Alumni Association.
Greg and Missy are twins who graduated from Akron-Westfield in 2009.
Marcia is the Legion Auxiliary president and serves on the Westfield City Council.
The family are members of Westfield United Church of Christ where Marcia serves on the Special Events Committee.
Marcia is the daughter of Virginia and Edmond “Buzz” Leekley of Akron. She is a Westfield Class of 1973 alumnus.
“It’s nice the community is doing this,” said Nathan. “We never knew how much people cared.”
“It’s a good community we live in,” said Marcia.
“We’re thankful,” said Missy.