This is part four of a series about Jerry, my friend and brother in Christ Jesus, who departed from this world on November 9th, 2020. Jerry was a gentle spirit, an old hippie, with a need for speed. Jerry placed seventh in the nation in motorcycle road racing at the Grand Nationals at Road Atlanta. And Jerry was a gifted musician. He sang and played guitar and played a mean blues harp. In my opinion, Jerry covered Neil Young better than Neil Young.
I once asked Jerry, “How did you get started playing the guitar?” Jerry recounted, “I was around nineteen and I’d just gotten saved. I was going to The Adams Apple (Christian coffee house in Ft. Wayne, Indiana) and there were a lot of great musicians there. I prayed, ‘God, is there any way you could help me play the guitar and use me?’ It was just between me and the Lord. I wasn’t going to tell anybody else about it. Then a couple days later this guy, Keith, came up to me and told me, ‘I’m going to buy me a new guitar, do you want my old one?’ Keith showed me a few chords and I was in the clouds.”
Jerry could have been a music journalist. He could tell you the year a band formed, when it disbanded, the member’s names, the instruments each member played, who wrote what songs and inside personal stories and profiles. Jerry’s favorite band was undoubtedly “Steely Dan”, but he had a broad spectrum of musical interests.
Jerry loved recording and sharing music. He recorded cassettes and burned CDs of various artists and would say, “Here, listen to this; I think you might really like it”. I pointed out to Jerry how he had introduced so many people to new music and artists and thereby had enriched so many lives. Jerry humbly and matter-of-factly replied, “When you find something good you want to share it”.
Steve Pottenger, who Jerry affectionately referred to as “Potty“, was like a spiritual little brother to Jerry back in the seventies. After Jerry’s death, Steve, sent me the following message describing their relationship: “Jerry’s sense of humor was contagious. He influenced me with the way he lived his life. Jerry was just a redeemed hippie with a willingness to share with others. He never pushed his faith on others; he just lived out his salvation with gratitude.” Steve’s description of Jerry reminds me of a quote by Oswald Chambers, “You can’t give to another that which you have found, but you can make them homesick for what you have,” (My Utmost for His Highest).
Steve continued, “As far as guitar playing, Jerry could play and sing some of the major artists of the day. I spoke with Jerry two weeks prior to his passing and he reminded me that he taught me my first guitar chord (Steve is a phenomenal guitarist). And Jerry turned me on to so much great music that I still listen to too this day. He was a huge Larry Norman fan and also Glass Harp with Phil Keaggy. Jerry actually introduced me to Phil Keaggy at an outdoor concert at OSU in the early 70’s. And it was always about the message of hope. Jerry was involved with “The Stable” coffeehouse in Portsmouth. He also played there once in a while. I can still hear him singing “Therefore being justified” and, “Jesus on the Mainline.” There was nothing ever pretentious about Jerry; just a humble soul with a desire to share the Gospel. When I spoke to Jerry, I had the chance to tell him he was one of three men who had a great influence in my life. When I told him the other two were my father and George Markey he humbly said ‘Well I don’t know if I’m good enough to be in that group’”.
In conclusion, I’m confident that Jerry would tell you that the best thing he ever found was the love, grace and mercy of God and he would want to pass it on.
“It only takes a spark to get a fire going, And soon all those around can warm up in its glowing; That’s how it is with God’s love once you’ve experienced it, You spread his love to everyone; you want to pass it on…I wish for you my friend, this happiness that I’ve found. You can depend on Him; it matters not where you’re bound. I’ll shout it from the mountain top, I want the world to know, The Lord of love has come to me, I want to pass it on, (“It only takes a spark”, by Kurt Kaiser).
Loren Hardin is a social worker with SOMC-Hospice and can be reached at 740-357-6091 or at [email protected]. You can order Loren’s book, “Straight Paths: Insights for living from those who have finished the course” at Amazon and Barnes and Noble .