Dr. Jerry William Harlan, 84
Dr. Jerry William Harlan, 84, of Sedalia, died peacefully surrounded by family Aug. 1, 2012, at Boone Hospital Center in Columbia.
He was born Dec. 4, 1927, to A.J. and Esther Harlan. Esther died in 1938. A.J. married the former Mary Hoffman in 1942 and the new stepmother cared for Jerry and his older brother and took the boys on car and fishing trips.
Jerry attended Smith-Cotton High School but never graduated. Instead, he was allowed to enroll at the University of Missouri at age 16 due to academic ability. He earned three degrees there, the last being a doctoral degree in chemical engineering awarded in 1958.
On June 3, 1950, Jerry married the former Margaret Hampson, who survives him. The early years of the marriage were spent in Columbia, Mo., operating a student boarding house and cooking for Tiger football players while Jerry was attending classes and working as a lab assistant. The first of their two children were born in Columbia hospitals. About 1955, Jerry and Marge as she’s known – moved to Hammond, Ind., where Jerry worked for Standard Oil Co. About 1958, the family moved to Lockport, Ill. There, Jerry worked 15 years for Swift & Company, conducting research into meat and industrial byproducts.
Jerry was elected to the Lockport Township High School Board in 1970 and served until 1974. With his support, Lockport elected its first black school board member and the district hired its first black administrator in those years. In 1974, Jerry and Marge moved to Philadelphia, where Jerry became the chief of the Hides and Leather Laboratory at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Eastern Regional Research Center. For his work, Jerry and Marge went to Paris, London, Barcelona, and New Dehli conducting research on leather.
In 1980, Jerry and Marge moved back to Sedalia because they missed the countryside, smell of alfalfa and their growing family, and so Marge could begin her new career as a practicing psychologist. Jerry worked at Adco, Inc., for about the next 30 years. He developed and owned multiple patents during his career in chemistry.
Jerry and Marge built their dream log home on family-owned land in the country northeast of Sedalia. They developed a successful hunter and jumper horse breeding and showing operation. Thanksgiving filled the house with children, spouses, grandchildren, extended family and everyone’s pets. The younger generations played football in the front yard while Marge and her daughters cooked. Jerry carved the turkey. He never objected when a grandchild snuck under one of his elbows to take a nibble from the carving board.
In Sedalia, Jerry was active in Rotary Club and held positions in the Pettis County Democratic Party. Jerry also served on the board of the Missouri Restorative Justice Coalition and he and Marge conducted Victim Offender Mediation for first-time offenders of nonviolent crimes as referred by the county prosecuting attorney. Jerry and Marge attended Wesley United Methodist Church and held posts there, too. In the last few years, Jerry and Marge worked to build and open the Rose Nolen Black History Library to share black history with Sedalia.
Additional survivors include his son Jerry William Harlan, Jr., (Glenda) of Carlsbad, Calif.; three daughters, Brooke Tibbetts (Walter), of Story City, Iowa, Hetty Harlan (Bruce Buchowicz), of San Diego, Bonnie Kania (Tom), of Naperville, Ill.; his brother, Kenneth Harlan, of Lacombe, La.; seven grandchildren and 10 nieces and nephews.
Pallbearers will be Jerry’s grandsons Nate Carlisle, Ty Carlisle, Colter Carlisle, Grant Buchowicz and John Zepecki; and skilled-builder, consultant and loyal friend Rick Long.
Honorary pallbearers will be Jerry’s sons-in-law and trusted farm neighbor and friend Rick Bird.
Visitation will be 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 3, at McLaughlin Funeral Chapel, 519 S. Ohio St. Services will be 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 4 at McLaughlin, officiated by the Rev. Rick Adams of Wesley United Methodist Church, followed by internment at Crown Hill Cemetery, 830 N. Engineer Ave.
Great appreciation is extended to Dr. John Wendt, Dr. David Wuellner, the staff at the Dialysis Clinic, Inc., and Dr. Louis Sanchez, vascular surgeon at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis.
Also, deep gratitude to the First Responders of Clifton City and the ambulance staff. Thank you also to Air Evac Lifeline and Boone Hospital Center and Dr. Terry Ryan, neurosurgeon, for their care and understanding.
In lieu of flowers donations to the Rose Nolen Black History Library, 109 Lima Alley, Sedalia, MO, 65301, will be greatly appreciated.