Jerry Whitsett passed away Saturday, March 19, 2011, at Rogue Valley Medical Center, surrounded by his loving family. He was born November 2, 1935, in Grants Pass, Ore., to parents, Othel Oats Whitsett and June Sherard Whitsett.
Jerry grew up in Grants Pass, graduating from Grants Pass High School in 1954. While in high school, he was awarded a National Gold Key in Art and had the honor of having his painting hang in an exhibit at Carnegie Hall. Following graduation from high school, Jerry joined the Navy to see the world. In 1958, he was discharged from the Navy and attended Southern Oregon College where he met his future wife, Joan Johnson. Jerry and Joan were married in Grants Pass on August 8, 1959, (the night the hills behind Lithia Park burned in Ashland). After Joan graduated from SOC, they moved to Corvallis, Ore., and Jerry attended OSU and graduated in 1962 with a degree in geology.
Jerry was hired by Exxon Oil Company and went to work in Kingsville, Texas, which at that time was one of Exxon's largest domestic production areas. Their daughter, Robin, was born in Kingsville. The Whitsetts enjoyed the new experiences and the great people they met, but they missed the Northwest. So, after three years, they returned to Oregon. Jerry took a job with a large construction company, doing the geologic work for the foundations of the large grain elevators that still stand along the Columbia River. Because he was forced to be away from his family a great deal of the time, he decided to change his career. Jerry and family moved to Ashland, where their son, Clint, was born, and Jerry became a stockbroker; working for 31 years in Medford. He loved people and his clients were all special to him.
Jerry was always kind and optimistic. He believed in doing his best and being a lifelong learner. Jerry read in every spare moment that he wasn't painting, walking on the beach, gardening, skiing, hiking, birding and camping. Learning through travel was also a very important element in his life, he had visited over 50 countries and always had a new trip in mind. Jerry and Joan had participated in four Earth Watch Projects and taken many Elderhostel trips. He and Joan attended theatre, concerts and supported athletics at SOU, Ashland High School and Oregon State University. They attended their grandchildren's events whenever possible, and Jerry had always encouraged them to get the best education possible. He had been a volunteer Ski Patrolman, served on the SOU Athletic Scholarship Board, the Raider Club and was on the Fred Taylor Trust Board. Jerry enjoyed life and loved to be with family and friends.
Jerry retired in 1994 and began devoting more time to his painting. He did many paintings of Lithia Park, Ashland, the Rogue Valley and from his foreign travels. Jerry and Joan enjoyed traveling and painting all their married life. Jerry was a part owner and a director of Art & Soul Gallery in Ashland, he was also a lifetime member of the Watercolor Society of Oregon. One of Jerry's paintings was accepted this year and will be in the WSO Spring Show. He has donated paintings to Southern Oregon University for athletic scholarships, and also to Ski Originations and other worthy causes.
He is survived by his wife, Joan Whitsett; his daughter, Robin Gregory (husband, Robert), of Grants Pass, Ore.; his son, Clint Whitsett (wife, Amy), of Spokane Valley, Wash; six grandchildren, Brittany Warr, of Wilsonville, Ore., Logan Warr, of Vancouver, Wash., Mallory Matoush, of Wilsonville, Ore., and Katrina, Sophia, & Josephine Whitsett, of Spokane Valley, Wash. Jerry is also survived by many cousins, nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents and only sister, Larraine Hachenberg.
Words can not express how much he will be missed by family and friends.
Jerry will be cremated and a memorial service will be held at the First Presbyterian Church of Ashland, April 8, 2011, at 1:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made in Jerry's name to Ashland Park Foundation, 340 S. Pioneer, or Southern Oregon University Athletics.