Mountain-Road

       


Jerry Dwight Fisher Aaron

April 10, 1941 ~ May 20, 2019 (age 78)

1941—2019

On the morning of May 20, 2019, Jerry Aaron passed away at his Lokoya Road home after struggling several years with COPD. His wife of 54 years, Peggy, held his hand as he took his last breath.

Jerry was born in Frederick, Oklahoma on April 10, 1941, the biological son of Lily Fisher (“Blue Eyes”) and John Mark Perry. He was raised and eventually adopted by Bud and Pat Aaron (“GG”), whom he treasured as his parents all his life.

In 1947, when Jerry was six, the Aaron family moved to Napa, California to a house next to Briles Corner on Monticello Road. Jerry attended Mt. George Elementary School, grades 1- 6, and landed his first job at age 10, working at Vichy Springs swimming pool in exchange for summer passes. He attended Napa Junior High and Napa Senior High, graduating in 1959. In high school, Jerry was noted for his athletic abilities, wearing #64 on the Napa Indian football team. A starter as a junior, Jerry was a flankerback known for his speed and ability as a receiver. Quarterback Marshall Jaeger remarked that “Jerry was unique—always seemed to know where to be on the field.” Jerry Aaron loved music. Favorite songs were Zippity Doo Da, On the Sunny Side of the Street, and anything by Patsy Cline. He was also a great dancer, popular with the girls, and known as a snappy dresser with his immaculate white cords, perfectly ironed shirts, and polished saddle shoes.

Following graduation, Jerry began a plumbing apprenticeship but withdrew in 1960 to join the U.S. Marine Corps. He completed basic training at Camp Pendleton and was assigned to the USS Yorktown during the Vietnam War. Upon honorable discharge in 1964, he resumed his apprenticeship with Gene Monthei Plumbing in Vallejo. He celebrated his 70th birthday aboard the Yorktown in Charleston, South Carolina with eight of his fellow marines. After completing his military service, Jerry returned to Napa where he reconnected with an old schoolmate, Peggy Wilson. Sparks flew, and they were married in May of 1965.

Jerry went on to become a master plumber, working six decades in the plumbing field, first with the tools and later in planning and estimating. He was a skilled carpenter, able to build an entire house from the ground up. He constructed four homes on the Lokoya Road property and with lifelong friends, Don Judah and Dan Charlesworth, formed a crack trio, building Judah’s home and working together on countless other construction projects. Never one to rest, after retirement Jerry spent another 12 years working for Domaine Chandon Winery. His work ethic defined him as did his commitment to serving Napa youth throughout his life. Heavily involved in fund raisers to support youth activities, he served as president of the Napa High Booster Club, coached youth baseball for many years, and devoted additional years coaching American Legion baseball. The highlight of his coaching career came in 1987 when he and fellow coaches, Tony Costa, Andy Dowdle, and Todd Maday took their Napa Yankees team to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York and then traveled to Syracuse University to compete in the Junior Olympics where they won the gold medal—the first and only in Napa’s history.

Opinionated, animal lover, master gardener, jack-of-all-trades, meticulous craftsman, Jerry believed in and practiced an unyielding work ethic, which he passed on to his children and grandchildren. Frugal beyond belief but generous in heart, after retirement, Jerry brought flowers to his wife every week, prepared elegant fruit salads for family and neighbors, and every season, gathered walnuts from Jack Tognetti’s orchard to share with family.

A passionate man, Jerry was quick to love and quick to temper (ask any American Legion umpire!). He was highly competitive, striving for excellence in all things he pursued. The 750 camellia plants in the Aaron gardens produced breathtaking specimens, which were frequent prize winners at camellia competitions. He served several terms as president of the Napa Valley Camellia Society and with Peggy, helped to produce the annual camellia show 25 years running. Over the decades, Peggy & Jerry’s camellia gardens have attracted hundreds of growers, both national and international.

He loved his gardens, but Jerry found his greatest pride in the accomplishments and strong characters of his children and grandchildren. His final celebration came on May 19 when he heard news of grandson Austin Aaron’s graduation from the University of California, Berkeley, one day before his death.

From Grandson Austin:

I will miss you every day, Grandpa. Growing up, I walked over to your house every day and talked to you about everything going on in my life. From little league to college football, I could find you at every one of my practices—not just the games—critiquing my routes or telling me to run harder. To the most caring, loving, dedicated man: You taught me so much I can’t put into words. I will continue to do everything I can to make you proud. I love you with all my heart, Papa.

From Granddaughter Ali:

Papa: the man who taught me my sense of adventure—spending every single day at GG’s house, feeding me delicious sweets, Bugles, and cinnamon toast—riding on the golf cart throughout Lokoya Road, pushing me on swings high enough to make Grandma’s face blue!—watching me prance over to your house in my fancy dresses, dressing up as my knight in shining armor, listening to Elvis Presley, and watching old musicals, letting me sell you back your own soda in my secret garden, showering me with all of your love and generosity.

Papa: the man who gave me the childhood of a lifetime.

From Grandson Jacob:

Grandpa was a man who cared about every little detail of what I told him. When I moved up to the varsity team my sophomore year, Grandpa knew that I was nervous. He drove me home from practice each day and gave me tips on how to control the team and enjoy the moment. That helped me to relax. He was a man who cared about school as much as sports. Before we talked about football, he would ask me how school was going, who my favorite teachers were, and what subjects I enjoyed the most. I appreciated the little details that we talked about more than anything. I will miss everything about him (even when he would ridicule some of the best athletes in the world, and I thought he was crazy). I will miss his advice on sports and life. But I know that he will be watching down on me on Friday nights after every touchdown or win and on the golf course, cheering every birdie I make. I love you Grandpa, and I will always remember you and will pass down to my kids what great times I had with you and this wonderful family.

From Granddaughter Ava:

I will remember good times at Garfield Park while my brother was playing baseball and Grandpa Jerry would spend time with me in the playground area eating nachos together. He also supported my 4H poultry showmanship at the Fair and loved animals like I do. I will think about Grandpa Jerry every time I go fishing.

From Granddaughter Caitlin:

I want to thank my Papa for never failing to make me feel like I was one of the most special people on the planet. He always told me how proud he was of who I was becoming and encouraged me to follow my heart. The last time I saw him he said he loved me and told me to “Go get ‘em Caityroo!” I will always cherish the motivational mottos and life lessons that Papa shared with me. I wrote the following poem for him to thank him for providing me with unwavering love and the best childhood a kid could ask for. Thank you for everything Papa.

The Soul of a Mountain

He is a hardworking man,

Who loves his kids and family

He has the soul of a mountain.

He is a fixer-upper kind of guy,

Whose goal is to provide stability.

He has the soul of a mountain.

He loves to go to baseball games.

He secretly dances to Anne Murray

He has the soul of a mountain.

He built nine homes and raised three kids,

Helped grow flowers plants, and trees,

He has the soul of a mountain.

He watches as his grandkids grow.

He put band aids on cut-up knees.

He has the soul of a mountain.

He loves to lend a helping hand.

Made a name for himself in his community.

He has the soul of a mountain.

He cuts coupons and makes fruit salad.

His love never wavers for his wife Peggy.

He has the soul of a mountain.

He loves his kids: Justin, Tess, and Jason,

And his grandkids: Ava, Jacob,

Caitlin, Austin, Ali.

He has the soul of a mountain.

He built a mountaintop empire.

He lives surrounded by family.

He has the soul of a mountain.

To carry on his legacy, Jerry leaves behind his wife Peggy; son Justin and wife Darla (Bevins) and their children Austin and Ali; daughter Thea Aaron Vadnais and husband Jack and their daughter Caitlin; son Jason and wife Katie (White) and their children Jacob and Ava. He will be profoundly missed by his children and grandchildren as well as godchildren Patrick Judah and Amy Judah whom he and Peggy helped raise.

In his seventies, thanks to the relentless research of daughter Thea (Tess), Jerry’s biological family was found, and in 2013, he celebrated a joyous homecoming in Oklahoma with the Perry side of his family. Once an only child, Jerry came full circle, discovering family he never knew he had. He will be missed by brothers John Mark Perry and Phil Perry and sisters Beth Perry Houchin and Susan Bradley. Also mourning his loss is the Fisher family: sisters Carolynne Fisher Bowen, Jackie Fisher Causie, and Marilyn Fisher, brother John R. Bowen, and cousin Bruce Fisher who documented the family’s history and Jerry’s birth in his book: Good People: The Life and Times of Johnny Fisher.

Though the absence of our patriarch leaves an empty space in the Mt. Veeder family compound, the evidence of his manual labor and love of gardening surrounds us and softens the sorrow.

The family would like to thank Kaiser pulmonologist Dr. Michael Yim and the nurses of Collabria Hospice for their sensitive care during Jerry’s last days. A Celebration of Life is planned for sometime later this summer. Friends may honor Jerry’s love of animals by donating in his name to:

We Care Animal Rescue, 1345 Charater Oak Avenue, St. Helena, CA 94574

“If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die, I want to go where they went.”

—-Will Rogers

© 2019 Tulocay Cemetery Funeral Home & Crematory. All Rights Reserved. Funeral Home website by CFS