Jerry Wiltse, 66, of Brookings, passed away Nov. 4, 2011, in Crescent City.
Jerry was born May 8, 1945, in Malden, Mass. to Kenneth and Evelyn (Skibbe) Wiltse.
He spent his childhood in Greeley, Iowa, and graduated from high school in Manchester, Iowa.
Following high school, Jerry enlisted in the U.S. Air Force where he would serve two and a half tours in Vietnam and earn the Bronze Star for his role as radio operator in Dak To from Oct. 23 to Nov. 20, 1967.
After more than 20 years of service in the Air Force, Jerry retired and began his second career as an electronics engineer with the Federal Aviation Administration, specializing in vortac and microwave antennas, and navigational aides.
Initially he worked in Las Vegas but later transferred to Red Bluff, Calif. He would spend the last 10 years of his career there commuting weekly from his home in Brookings.
Jerry met Paula Young in Havre, Mont. They married Sept. 17, 1971.
Jerry enjoyed volunteering his time to area non-profit groups in Brookings such as the Vietnam Veterans of America, but was most active in the Brookings-Harbor Redshirts. Having held offices with the Redshirts including sergeant of arms and vice president, Jerry loved his time with them.
He and Paula traveled all over the world, including to Europe and the Middle East. They also loved putting the ATVs in the toy hauler and heading out to the desert where they would also discover what would become their favorite hobby: rock hounding. They collected, cut and polished many different kinds of rocks and even began a small business selling their hand-crafted jewelry. Jerry was also an avid fisherman and had his own boat, the Flat Broke.
Most of all, though, Jerry was a family man. Whether he was spending time with Paula or video-chatting with his grandkids, he loved and was devoted to his family. Jerry will be remembered for his dry sense of humor, his commitment to the local community and its veterans, and as a loving husband, father, and grandfather.
Survivors include Paula, his wife of 40 years, of Brookings; daughter and son-in-law Sheri and Larry Goade of Bainbridge Island, Wash.; son Matthew Wiltse of Brookings; brothers Arthur Wiltse and his wife Mary of Port Isabel, Texas, Bruce Wiltse and his former wife Lynda Wiltse of Chicago; Roger Wiltse of Greeley, Iowa, Keith Wiltse and his wife Debra of Stedman, N.C.; grandchildren Wyatt and Garrett Goade.
A celebration of Jerry’s life will be at 1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 20, at Brookings Elks Lodge 1934, 800 Elk Drive, in Brookings. A potluck reception will follow at the lodge.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be made in Jerry’s memory to the Brookings-Harbor Redshirts, 17247 Lumberview Road, Brookings, OR 97415 or online at www.brookings-harbor-redshirts.org.
Condolences may be expressed online at www.redwoodmemorial.net.
Submitted by Redwood Memorial Chapel.