Gerald S. “Jerry” Wild
MADISON – Gerald S. “Jerry” Wild, age 82, of Madison, passed away on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, surrounded by his family while at Agrace HospiceCare after a brief, yet courageous, journey with cancer.
He was born on Sept. 9, 1937, in Madison, the son of Sylvan and Meredeth (Shields) Wild. Jerry graduated from Oregon High School in 1956.
On Dec. 14, 1959, Jerry was first introduced to Joan Fleury at the Ray-O-Vac time clock, where they both worked. Joan fell in love with Jerry’s Elvis eyes, black hair and sideburns. Their first date was four days later – Jerry drove Joan to Oregon in his dad’s blue 1958 Chevy station wagon to watch a basketball game (Oregon won the game). Jerry also spent their dating years taking Joan to Breese Stevens Field to watch professional wrestling. Little did they know that almost five years later they’d be married on June 6, 1964 at Trinity Lutheran Church in Madison (and they’ve been members at Trinity for 55 years).
Jerry spent most of his working years as an offset press operator on the night shift at various employers including Ray-O-Vac, Edward Mayland, Fine Arts Checks and Royle Publishing, where he retired at age 65 in 2002. At home, Jerry always took care of things around the house including mowing the lawn, hand washing dishes, and getting the groceries. After retiring, he took his new “job” seriously – taking Joan to and from work each day, and to any appointments she may have had.
In 1962, Joan and Jerry became partners with Walt and Ruby Braun in a bowling league. A lot of time was spent together at the bowling alley and they became best friends. Walt and Ruby watched Joan and Jerry fall in love and get married. Their two families grew up together and they spent a lot of time at Walt and Ruby’s cottage fishing, swimming, enjoying campfires and taking walks through the woods together.
Jerry was a member of the Yahara Fisherman’s Club and had fond fishing memories including a Canadian Fishing Trip. He often went fishing with his father-in-law Guy and brother-in-law Jim Fleury at Jim’s ice fishing shack.
Jerry loved watching old westerns (especially John Wayne) and black and white movies. His collection of videos is impressive, stored on floor-to-ceiling shelving with each movie documented in a binder. He spent hours converting VHS and Beta tapes to DVD, often in the early hours of the morning.
Racing was an important part of Jerry’s life. He was a member of the Matt Kenseth Fan Club. He loved watching NASCAR and was able to attend NASCAR races in Michigan, camping on the infield with his son-in-law, Jim Braund, Jim’s dad Dean, and other family.
You’d find Joan and Jerry at the local race track every weekend during racing season. Jerry first started getting interested in stock car racing back in the 1950’s when his uncles were involved in racing. He later watched Johnny and Jared Ziegler race the number 93 car. Years later, he became a fan of Johnny Ziegler’s grandson, Zack Riddle. For around 15 years Joan and Jerry have followed and supported Zack who drives the number 14 late model car, at Madison International Speedway and other tracks. You’d usually see Jerry with a camera across his shoulder or attached to his belt, taking video and photos of Zack at the racetrack.
Jerry’s last social outing away from the house was going to the racetrack for the Track Championship and it was a very special night. Jerry watched Zack win a feature and get second place in the season championship. Zack’s mom, Brandie and fiance, Kelsey saved seats for Jerry’s family and kept him updated on point totals throughout the evening. A few weeks earlier, Jerry was able to get a ride in the track’s golf cart down to the pits driven by Hall of Famer Johnny Ziegler – he talked about that experience for quite a while.
An annual vacation to the La Crosse and Mississippi River area was also centered around racing during Oktoberfest Race Weekend. Jerry loved driving along Highway 35, stopping at various locks and dams to watch barges go through, watch the trains and eagles, and enjoy the fall color. He would hop out of the car and get his video camera out to capture the sights. He’d also stop at Coaches Family Restaurant in Prairie du Chien where Joan and Jerry had a favorite booth to sit in where your butt sags down in the leather seats.
Joan and Jerry enjoyed taking lots of trips together. In the early days, there were trips to Tennessee to visit the Grand Ole Opry and Jerry’s brother. Buddy and Maria own a motel in Clarksville and raise show dogs. That’s where Joan and Jerry got their red Siberian Husky, Prissy who was part of the family for 13 years. Over the years, there have been numerous weekend trips to breakfasts on the farm and various county fairs to collect autographs and listen to music. Jerry enjoyed live music and he especially loved the classic rock-n-roll music played by The Corvettes at Rex’s Innkeeper. Joan and Jerry were regulars whenever The Corvette’s played and it was common to find them staying until the very end of the night.
Finally, and most importantly, Jerry cherished his family. He loved spending time with family throughout the year, with lots of laughs and hugs when they’d get together. He enjoyed being a great-grandpa and tried to teach Bella how to wink whenever she visited. Mother’s Day and Christmas were special times with the entire family. For over 12 years, instead of exchanging Christmas presents, Jerry’s family has been grocery shopping to donate to a local food pantry (while grocery shopping, you could count on cart races, clean up needed in the oyster cracker aisle, and strange looks from other shoppers as a group photo was attempted somewhere in the store). Jerry also enjoyed going to Fall River to sit around the fire with family and swat mosquitoes together. Other annual trips with family included Wisconsin Dells and the Fireside Theatre.
Special gatherings included Jerry’s 80th birthday celebration with a “Fifties” theme party (a nod to him being in the class of 1956). Family and friends from near and far stopped by to honor Jerry on his milestone birthday. A 1955 Chevy Bel Air was even parked in the front yard for the party. Then, this past March, Jerry and his sister Marlene were able to surprise their brother, Buddy on his 80th birthday in Tennessee – taking a road trip over a long weekend with family members. Jerry treasured this opportunity to spend time together with his two siblings, especially their early morning chats.
Jerry was a caring husband and his marriage with Joan was an example of a relationship centered around love. His legacy is passing along that same love to future generations through his family.
Jerry is survived by his wife, Joan; daughters, Debbie (Jim) Braund and Diane (Rudy) King; granddaughters, Ashley Braund and Nicole (Ryan) Braund-Butler; great-granddaughters, Anna Butler and Bella Butler; brother, Buddy (Maria) Wild; sister, Marlene Sommers; brother-in-law, Jim (Betsy) Fleury; nieces, Sylvia Dunn and Keri (Mark) Braithwaite; nephews, Wolfgang Wild, John (Rae Ann) Bisbee and Jay (Karen) Fleury; and other relatives and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents.
A funeral service will be held at GUNDERSON EAST FUNERAL AND CREMATION CARE, 5203 Monona Drive, Madison, at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019. Visitation will be held at the funeral home from 9 a.m. until the time of service on Saturday. Burial will be held at Roselawn Memorial Park.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Agrace HospiceCare or Trinity Lutheran Church in Madison. Online condolences may be made at www.gundersonfh.com.
Funeral & Cremation Care
5203 Monona Drive
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