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Jerome “Jerry” Walter Witherill, passed away peacefully in the early hours of July 5, 2022, following a brief but courageous battle against cancer.
Jerry was born on December 9, 1935, to Harold and Beulah (Eiler) Witherill in Grand Rapids, MN. He graduated from Grand Rapids High School in 1954 and went on to join the Marine Corps, serving both domestically and overseas, attaining the rank of Sargent. Following honorable discharge he earned a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics, followed by a Master of Arts and a Ph.D. from Michigan State University both with an emphasis in Safety.
Jerry’s professional career was focused on education. From 1962 to1965 he was a mathematics teacher with Lavonia Public Schools in Lavonia, Michigan. From 1965 to 1966, he worked for Allstate Insurance Company as a Driver Education Consultant. From 1966 to1969, Jerry worked as a graduate assistant in the MSU Traffic Safety Center. From 1969 to1971, he became an Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. In 1971, he transferred into the University of Wisconsin system, teaching initially at the University of Wisconsin Madison, followed by 25 years at the University of Wisconsin Whitewater, retiring as a tenured professor in 1998. His strength as an educator was recognized when he was awarded the W.P. Roseman Excellence in Teaching Award in 1993.
In addition to teaching, Jerry was very active in supporting student groups and in professional safety organizations. He was recognized by the U.S. Second ROTC Region, Phi Delta Kappa, University of Wisconsin Whitewater Hockey, the UW Whitewater International Student Association and the UW Whitewater Black Student Union. In 1988 he was awarded the Traffic Safety Lifetime Achievement Award and in 1997 the National Safety Council Distinguished Service to Safety Award.
In 1988, Jerry married Christine Knaak of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Over their thirty-four years of marriage, they raised three beautiful sons, David, Christopher and Daniel. Jerry also was the proud father of Anne and Mike Witherill.
Jerry was known to be a truly kind and generous individual. In his high school yearbook, he was noted to be “as nice as he is tall”. He was outgoing and relished talking to anyone. He was an advocate of the underdog and was tireless is his support of fellow faculty and his students. He was a great mentor and friend to many. He was an avid sportsman and played rugby and basketball in the Marines, defenseman for the UMD Bulldog hockey team and was a lifelong player of golf, tennis, hockey and any other sport with bat, ball or glove. He remained true to his commitments as a Marine and exemplified one of its core tenets, Semper Fi (“Always Loyal”). One of his greatest gifts was to participate in the Badger Honor Flight. He loved unconditionally. He was a wonderful father and devoted spouse. He remained curious and engaged until the end.
Jerry is survived by his loving wife of 34 years, Christine; his sons, Christopher & Daniel Witherill, Mike (Debbie) Witherill; his daughter, Anne (Sara) Witherill; his grandsons, Nicholas and Austin; his granddaughters, Brittni (Alex) Antonescu, Lauren (Jesse) Maughan; his great-grandchildren, Brooklyn and Cash Maughan; his brother, Joseph (Sandra) Witherill; his sisters, Delia (Doug) Jurek, Elizabeth Hofer, and Julie Witherill; and sister-in-law Marsha (Nick) Witherill.
He was predeceased by his parents, Harold and Beulah Witherill; his son, David Witherill; his brothers, Richard “Rusty” Witherill, Thomas Witherill, Nick Witherill; and his sister, Penelope “Penny” Felix.
Friends and family will gather from 11-1:00 PM on Saturday, May 13, 2023 at Cress SUN PRAIRIE with a memorial service and full military honors to follow. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given in Jerry’s honor to the Badger Honor Flight, PO Box 258066, Madison, WI 53725, or by using this link: https://www.badgerhonorflight.org/donate/
The family would like to thank Dr. Eric Marty of the UW Carbone Cancer Center and Agrace Hospice Services for their support, care, and compassion.
Jerry’s giving and kind-hearted soul will be missed. Our family’s hope is that his generous spirit will live on in all the lives he has touched over the years.
Cress Funeral Service
1310 Emerald Terrace
Sun Prairie, WI 53590
Saturday, May 13, 2023
11:00am - 1:00pm (Central time)
Saturday, May 13, 2023
Starts at 1:00pm (Central time)
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