Gerald W. Elward, 79

Gerald W. “Jerry” “Whitey” “L” Elward of the town of Jackson died on Monday, Nov. 4, 2013, at The Kathy Hospice at the age of 79 years. He was born on July 22, 1934, in Milwaukee to the late George P. and Madeline (nee Evanovich) Elward.

He grew up on the near north side of the city of Milwaukee and on his aunt’s and uncle’s farm in Maplewood. He attended Siefert School, William McKinley and West Division High School, where he graduated in 1953. He then attended various business colleges in Milwaukee and West Bend, majoring in accounting. He also attended night school where he attained certificates in purchasing, inventory control and industrial blue print drawing. He has taken classes in sign language, computer science, creative writing, creative painting, behavior management and psychology.

Jerry served his country overseas with the U.S. Army as chief radar operator, spending time in Japan and Korea. He had a long love and interest in music, and over the years played the clarinet, alto saxophone, bass clarinet, alto clarinet and ventured with the piano. He also had a deep love for most animals, especially his own dogs and cats over the years.

On Sept. 6, 1958, he was united in marriage to his best friend Jo Anna (nee Ramage) in Milwaukee.

Jerry wanted to be remembered as a husband, father, conservationist and man of the arts. He had many interests, and was involved in many organizations.

He will be remembered for his intelligence, warmth, quick wit, sense of humor and complaisance toward others. Jerry will be deeply missed by all who knew and loved him.

Since his retirement in 1996 from The Threshold Inc. (a vocational training and personal adjustment center for physically and developmentally disabled people of Washington County) where he was employed as a training instruction for 16 years, he has added to his collection of music and musical instruments. Jerry has also written 13 novels, a dozen novellas and many poems.

At the time of his death, he was the president of the Silent Singers Inc., a deaf awareness organization that performs in sign language (the beautiful language of the deaf) to music. He was a charter member and past president of the River City Irregulars, West Bend’s marching and concert band, of which he was still a member. He was a charter member of the River City Blaskapelle, a German band, which is a splinter group of the River City Irregulars, in West Bend, of which he was still a member. He was past executive director of the West Bend Patriots Drum and Bugle Corps, was drum major of the 37th AAA Army Drum and Bugle Corps located in Fukuoka, Japan, was a member of the Beige Hat Club, a fun club for men in West Bend, a past member of the Glacier Hills Artist League of West Bend, a past member of the Hartford Sketch and Paint Club, a member of the Washington County Writer Club, and a past member of Waukesha Writers Workshop.

He also was a chairperson on the committee for his high school 50th class reunion party, a co-chairperson of Threshold Alumni Group of West Bend, cochairperson of West Division High School Class of ’53 luncheon committee and was on the executive committee of West Division High School alumni association committee.

Survivors include his beloved wife and best friend Jo Anna; their children Garett of the town of Jackson and De Ann (Jerry) Mathson of Kewaskum; grandchildren Elsa, Julie (Ben) Michaels and Jennifer (Aaron) Fechter; greatgrandchildren Avery, Lydia, and Jax Michaels; sisters Kathleen Ringsage of Washougal, Wash., and Sue Elward of Portland, Ore.; nieces, nephews, other relatives, and many friends and acquaintances.

At Jerry’s request, no services will be held. In lieu of flowers, those that wish may give memorials in memory of Jerry to the Silent Singers, c/o Linda Hillebrant, 641 Whitegate Drive, Saukville, WI 53060.

The Schmidt Funeral Home of West Bend is serving the family.

Online guestbook and condolences available at