Small, Gerald C., 81 of Gulfport, Florida officially embarked on his next great adventure on June 5, 2018. His loving family tried to surround him, but never wanting to be the center of attention, he waited until we were all asleep.
Known as Jerry to his friends, and Popples to his family, he was originally from Newport, NH. In his early years he loved to fly, and had his pilot’s license before he could drive. One of his first jobs was to drop food from his plane for the wild boars in the area. After graduating from high school, Jerry joined the Coast Guard, where he trained as an airplane mechanic. His first official call to duty was to rescue passengers from the ill-fated Andrea Doria in 1956. He married his wife Nancy in November, 1964 and had three daughters, Nancy Anne, Karen, and Sheri. They lived together in Rensselaer, NY for 41 years before retiring to Florida in 2006. In Rensselaer, Jerry and Nancy owned Yankee Doodle Bikes, and Jerry also worked as a school bus driver. He was employed by the Rensselaer Boys Club as Director of Physical Education in the 1960’s and 70’s. He was Instructor of the Boys Club Circus, which was nationally acclaimed. In this role he acted as a mentor for many young men in the city. In a newspaper article from 1971 about the circus, he is quoted as saying, “We perform to please the (audience), teach gymnastic skills, teach discipline and juvenile decency, and to provide that very important ingredient, fun.”
Jerry was a loving and devoted husband, father, grandfather and friend who would do anything for those he loved. He never turned down a game of Pretty, Pretty, Princess with his grandkids, and would spend endless hours with them searching for shark’s teeth or seashells at the beach. He was a lover of classic cars, amusement parks, bargain hunting, the beach, the gym, and cooking for his family and friends - his cheesecake is famous! He was witty and slightly sarcastic. He had a big, brilliant smile and an even bigger heart. He loved a good laugh and to lovingly tease those around him. A true kid at heart, he was once nominated as Rensselaer’s kid of the year.
Jerry will be dearly missed by his wife and daughters, grandchildren Alex, Holley, Nick, Jess, Jaizah, and Carlos, son-in-law Jeff, and many friends. His grandaughter Rachael is happy to have him with her now, and he is surely baking with her and daughter-in-law, Tammy.
The family will notify friends and family when services will be held for Jerry. (one in Rensselaer, and one in Gulfport). In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to Suncoast Hospice (suncoasthospice.org), 6770 102nd Ave N Pinellas Park, FL 33782 or The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (https://donate.lls.org/lls/donate), 3505 East Frontage Road Suite 145, Tampa