Gerald Peter “Jerry” Wittman, 90, Phoenix, AZ, died Aug. 8, 2013, from complications of a fall at his home on June 11.
He was the nicest, kindest man and greeted everyone with a sweet smile. We mourn his passing, but are comforted that he was a part of our lives.
Jerry was born to Carl and Edna Wittman on Nov. 3, 1922 in Merrill, graduated from Merrill High School in 1940 and attended Carroll College in Waukesha, WI, before enlisting in the U.S. Army in 1942. He served as an MP, medic, and combat rifleman with the 45th Infantry Division until the end of the European Theater of Operations in 1945. As a reserve officer, he served during the 1961 Berlin Crisis and held the rank of Major. He earned a social sciences B.A., Northern Michigan University; a Master of Social Work, University of Wisconsin; and ABD of Adult Ed/Criminology PhD, Florida State University.
He received national honors and awards for his work in juvenile and criminal justice, and adult education. His presentation, “My Create-a-Criminal Kit,” reprinted in various juvenile and criminal justice conferences, publications and textbooks. Co-founder of the National Juvenile Detention Association; Assistant professor in criminology at Florida State University, Universities of Georgia, Nevada and Wisconsin; Training Director, National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, Reno; and Director, Medical Social Services, Holy Cross Hospital, Merrill.
Jerry was a very active community volunteer in Merrill when he first retired here in the 1980s. He was past president of the Merrill Evening Lions Club. He was a life member of the Merrill Historical Society – the East Lake living room furniture is a Wittman family donation.
Jerry was a member of the Merrill Silver M Club for former Merrill football letter winners, having reached Golden M status.
Jerry was duly proud of the Wittman family’s deep connection to Merrill. His grandfather, Dr. A.R. Wittman, served as Merrill mayor from 1924 to 1928. A.R. Wittman was instrumental in the purchase of 277 acres by the city, which was later deeded to the state and is now Council Grounds State Park. Dr. Wittman was the first to coin the phrase “City of Parks” in reference to Merrill.
A past resident of Riverside Avenue, Jerry was enamored with the Wisconsin River.
After his third attempt at retirement, Jerry and wife, Pat, moved to Phoenix, where he volunteered in community activities and was a Director on the Ahwatukee Board of Management, Phoenix, AZ. Jerry was an avid reader and poet, renowned for his annual Christmas newsletters. A poker and blackjack expert; animal lover, especially of the winning dogs and horses he bet; and a billiards bank-shot whiz until Parkinson’s limited his activities.
He is survived by his loving wife of 44 years, Patricia; sister, Helen Margaret; his twin children, Ann, and Jeff (Patty); granddaughter, Brandy (Chris); twin great grandsons, Jacob and Jeffrey; and family and friends.
Burial of his ashes will be Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013, 11 a.m. at the Merrill Memorial Park Cemetery. Memorials may be made in Jerry’s name to the Merrill Historical Society.