The Jerry McIntyre Experience

Celebrating the Life of Jerry McIntyre


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Beer in church?

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1 Beer in church? on Mon Oct 19, 2009 10:40 am

Jerry P. McIntyre
Yesterday early in the morning, a very dear friend died of cancer just a few days after his doctors said there was nothing more they could do. We didn’t know his bladder cancer had spread to other organs before it was removed; it grew undetected for several months despite clear PET scans, belated chemo and other interventions. He and I believed the seeds of the cancer that took him were sewn in the rice paddies of Southeast Asia. Jerry was 57 and died at home with his family by his side.
News in a small town travels very efficiently, particularly when it’s bad. By noon, virtually everyone knew that he was gone and the magnitude of the loss stood starkly ahead for a grieving family and community. We hadn’t just lost another local guy; we’d lost Jerry and many of us just didn’t know what to do next.
People knew Jerry in different ways. He was a second generation contractor, a board member for the Community College and the president of his local hospital board. He was a member of Holy Ghost Catholic Church where he helped build the school then added classrooms, and finally the beautiful Hembrow Center. Beer school, he called it, because after the work was done on the original building one Friday night, the empties were deposited in the unfinished block walls.
He was vital to our County Board on issues like ADA, jail overcrowding, and the design of administrative offices. He was a Rotarian, a barbeque artist, a washers player, and he loved to golf. His sweet 84 year old mother acknowledged him as the head of the family. And he was all about that family.
Jerry was a builder, a planner, a finish carpenter, a licensed roofer and plumber. He was highly sought after, and you were lucky to get him because he was so busy. He had left the big jobs he used to run twenty years ago, to take over his ailing father’s construction business. His commercial experience was evident throughout his home community as he built restaurants, schools, and nursing homes. A trip down State Street runs you out of fingers and toes as you tally the work that he did for businesses and institutions. He was the architect who drew sketches of new homes and home additions, public building enlargements, and the restoration of historic treasures. He built most of his ideas, but, he noted, a lot of other people built them too, since he didn’t charge for his concepts. “It’s all part of the experience,” he would say, when a customer hawked his sketches to another contractor. Sometimes his feelings were hurt, but he was a very gracious man and no one ever knew.
Oh, and did I mention that Jerry was Irish? Given the right circumstances, he could dance a mean jig and had an elegant brogue with which he could spin jokes about his mythical buddy Paddy Badmouth; Paddy may have been his own creation, for I’d never heard of him before. And, yes, in fact, in the stories, Paddy was a wee bit like his creator. But that’s all I have to say about that. The point is, Jerry was an entertainer. We all loved to be around him, because he made us laugh. We laughed with him, sometimes at him, and sometimes he gently let us laugh at ourselves. The stories are almost beside the point, because it was his way to find the humor, the interest, in the mundane things that most of us ignore. Jerry was always insightful and curious about the things that went on in his life and he taught many of us to pay that same heed; he got more living done in his 57 years than many will do in a hundred.
So, Jerry is taking a temporary absence from us for a time. We’ll see him again. Right now, I’m thinking he’s busy. He’s likely slapping St. Peter on the shoulder, saying, Buddy, have you thought about redoing your gate? I’ve got some ideas if you have time for a beer….surely there’s beer in heaven.

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