Jerry Lee McCaffery passed away quietly on Thursday, March 9, 2023. Jerry was born October 11, 1936, in Stoughton, Wisconsin to Doris and Leo McCaffery. The oldest of 3 boys, he was active in boy scouts, loved reading, and playing outside. As a child, he loved waking early in the morning to help deliver bread with his father, and the summer he worked at his parents’ root beer stand was a favorite memory.
Jerry graduated from Edgerton High School (1955) where he was active in football, tennis, and choir and was valedictorian of his senior class. Jerry attended the University of Wisconsin, Madison where he received a bachelor’s degree (1959), graduating with Honors. He would later earn his doctorate from UW Madison in political science (1972). During college, Jerry was on the fencing team, debate team, lifeguarded, and wrote for the Sports pages of the Edgerton Reporter. Jerry also studied for a year and a half in Paris on a Rotary Club International scholarship. Jerry met Nancy Scherr at UW and they married in 1964. They later had three children: Susanne, Catherine, and Elisabeth.
Jerry taught at the University of Georgia (1972-1975) and Indiana University (1975-1984). From 1984-2007, Jerry taught at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA, where he was a professor of financial management and budgeting, authoring many articles and some text books with fellow professors on topics related to those subjects.
While living in Pacific Grove, California, Jerry became a docent at the Point Pinos Lighthouse in 1995. It was a hobby he enjoyed so much that he wrote a book on the building’s history (Lighthouse, 2001) and would become chairman of the docents. Jerry provided the docents with new information based on his research as well as readings for them to use for presentations. He enjoyed talking to visitors, sharing his love of history, and enjoying the beauty of the windswept greenery that runs down to the rugged rocky coast. He often said that the 11 years he spent docenting at the lighthouse were among his happiest memories. Jerry also volunteered at, and wrote the newsletter for, Point Lobos State Park for some years.
In 2007, Jerry and Nancy moved to Green Bay, Wisconsin, where Jerry volunteered at the National Railroad Museum. Since 2012, Jerry was a peer leader with the local “Stepping On” (a Fall Safety class) program at the Aging & Disability Resource Center (ADRC) of Brown County where he would help teach classes to older adults. Using what he learned at the ADRC he wrote articles for the Green Bay Press Gazette on fall prevention strategies. A careful listener, he loved supporting others, and he felt it was very rewarding helping people learn how to help themselves.
During the COVID pandemic, Jerry helped the ADRC pioneer their first virtual Stepping On class. Jerry was always an innovator and early adopter of technology, even in the early days of computers. As a hobby during the pandemic, his brother Jim and cousin John became such successful online Euchre players that they were frequently banned from competing together, due to their victory rate.
Jerry loved his cats, especially his beloved cat Grendel, who was almost always by his side. He was also an avid sports fan all his life, especially of UW sports teams and the Green Bay Packers.
Jerry loved watching sunsets over the water, driving down Big Sur and up to Oregon, lighthouses, burgers, milkshakes, classical music, and chocolate croissants. Jerry is survived by his brothers Ron and Jim; his wife Nancy; his daughters Susanne, Catherine, and Elisabeth; his grandchildren Amelie, Eleanor, and Conor; and his cousins John, Jeff, and Gary Endicott. He died with the rising sun on March 9, 2023, after 86 long, wonderful years. He will be greatly missed.
A celebration of life will be held in June and his ashes taken to his beloved Monterey Bay. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating your time at a senior center or historical monument in your town; or simply take a moment, reflect, and watch a sunset in Jerry’s honor.