Stories about Jerry
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“Wedren? …”Hoffman” That’s been my regular phone greeting to Jerry for over 50 years. It started in high school and has remained with us. So as we both reach 70, when we talk on the phone, we still sound like high school kids.
Jerry has more friends than anyone. The time and effort Jerry spends in keeping in touch with his friends, from all phases of his life, is truly remarkable. He is the one who makes the calls, makes the visits, stays involved and we all love him for doing it. It is always easy to be with him. There is his gentle sense of humor, a soft little poke of fun directed towards you and self references that imply that he doesn’t take himself too seriously.
But there are many things he takes very seriously. He has a strong sense of what is right and what is wrong: he is fierce in his devotion to Israel and being a Jew. Most important, however, is his family, his brother and sister, their kids and of course above all Craig. Though he and Craig appear to be quite different, there is in fact a clear resemblance in terms of their energy, their intelligence and their confidence in doing things their own way.
Besides his allergies, he is also addicted to airplanes, trains and buses because he is “always going somewhere”. And he is the grandmaster in knowing how to avoid the comforts of luxury. “First class travel? – why? Do you get there any faster?”
In fact if you look up the word “frugal” in the dictionary, not only do you see his “punim” but, to make sure you understand, Webster includes Jerry’s social security number and his Florida’s driver license. The Thesaurus has for frugal, “Wedren G,” tucked in between “abstemious” and “parsimonious”. Oh yeah, luxury cars. For Jerry BMW stands for “Buick Means Wedren”. Once, his late model Buick, i.e., seven years old, was stolen while parked outside his Little Tavern office. Two days later, the thief returned it and left a note saying that “it wasn’t worth stealing”.
No one who knows him, however, would ever question his generosity. He is generous with his time, with his interest and with his resources for causes he believes are “right”.
Now, at 70 we can reflect on going through life together. From the time we spent as two carefree kids driving around looking at colleges, to the sad time one and half years later, when, after his dad died, we drove to Cornell to pack up and bring his things home. He couldn’t be a kid any more, there were his mother and two siblings to look out for. He took on those new responsibilities with determination and grace.
So, Jer, we have lived our lives together as good friends. We have cared for one another. You are helping Sandi, and I have given advice about Craig. We have worried together, played together and hoped together. But most of all… we have laughed together.
Thanks for joining me at 70.
I love you man.
Regarding your old man-Recollections of when we were growing up:
Grandma Pearl used to make me wear Jerry’s old clothes. Of course, he was much bigger than me so she used to store his shirts, etc. in mothballs.
When I grew into them, I always smelled mothballs even though she would, of course, wash the clothes for me. Also, most of them were still big on me and she used to roll up the sleeves on the shirts so I could wear them.
When Jerry, Bob Blattner and I moved to our apartment on Milverton, I usually would have to sleep in the outside hallway on Saturday nights because he usually had someone in his bed with him and he wanted his privacy. Makes sense to me.
I also recall with much affection how Jerry would wrestle me to the floor and pin my arms and shoulders with his legs. He would then proceed to either thump my chest for hours on end or drip his saliva on my face. He was quite a warm and fuzzy bro.
Being 4 years younger had certain positive aspects. For example Jerry would always invite me to go with he and his friends to places where teenage boys socialize. He was very good about this and so many of his friends became acquaintances of mine.
I do love to recall 65 years of things and stuff, some of which have been great and some of which were quite sad. However, being Gerald's brother has been one of the most positive influences and experiences in my life and without his presence, his guidance, his advice, his strength and his love of family, my life could have taken a much different path.
So I can honestly say my life is so much better for having been his younger brother and I thank him from the bottom of my heart.
"OWL" ALWAYS LOVE YOU, SWEET JERRY!!
. . . met 58 years ago, seventh grade, Roosevelt Junior High School and as said by the Yiddish folk expression, "two mountains cannot come together, but two people can"!! Our relationship has endured all of these years, through war and peace, joy and sadness, different life paths and experiences. Our attitude toward life and humor, however, has always remained constant - - laughter is healthy - - doctors prescribe laughter!!
WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER driving with you on a delicatessen delivery route and listening to the sweetest music this side of the Mississippi (Tony Bennett, Bobby Darin, Johnny Ray, Fats Domino) played by the star-making disc jockey, Bill Randle. Craig would appreciate the influence Bill Randle and Alan Freed had on our generation.
WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER sitting in your living room - - can still picture the layout of that room - - and watching your dad's favorite comedian, Morey Amsterdam.
WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER the Saturday nights you, Louie Cangelosi and I spent together baby sitting for Laura and Billy.
WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER you as a person of integrity,
boundless compassion and unflinching good humor.
WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER your "courage" in not electing to join a popular high school fraternity and the depth of honor for your father after his death.
WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER the cool breeze in our hair
as we drove in your father's Buick convertible to a vacation at the Nevele Country Club in the Catskills in the summer 1951.
WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER your lovely parents, Pearl and Hy, and their impact on me. Jerry, you will not be remembered simply by your profound achievements, but I WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER you for your friendship, deeds and generosity and unheralded acts of loving kindness!!
Jerry was one of my dad’s best friends, going back before high school. When Jerry moved to Washington I got to be good friends with Craig.
Their life in DC was very different from my suburban enclave.
I don’t remember Jerry having any material possessions. I think monks had more things with them in a monastery. I recall, his and Craig’s apartment on Virginia Avenue was mostly empty. There were only condiments in the fridge, and a bottle of Stoli in the freezer. All the laundry was done at the dry cleaners and came back in boxes. And food mostly carry-out. To my eyes, it was awesome!
I remember Jerry taking us to visit various Little Tavern locations around Washington and Baltimore, some in neighborhoods that were a little scary. He would tell us about how the location was doing, and the challenges it faced. He had us taste french fries and asked our opinions on things the restaurants were trying. He gave me my first job when Little Tavern opened up in Columbia. He called me Employee #1 at Columbia. Later, when I got a better job and moved on, he was thrilled for me.
One weekend Craig got tickets for us to see the Dead Kennedys at GW (George Washington University). I think I was 15 which made Craig about 14. It was kind of scary. Jerry found out were we had gone and came and yanked us out of there. I remember being kind of grateful. He was steaming mad, but did not stay that way. He was laughing at us by the time he got us home.
Jerry would really listen when you were talking, and even when I was a kid he would engage like l was an adult. And he remembered the conversations, even years later.
He had a unique way of talking to you—it would be a long, almost southern drawl when he called me on the phone. He would say “A-n-t-h-o-n-y C-l-a-y-m-a-n, this is W-E-D-R-E-N”, drawing out each syllable. I could hear him smiling over the phone.
He was one of those people that you were always happy to hear from.
I really liked him.
I will miss him.
Jerry’s smiling eyes matched the ever present smile on his face. Every time I saw him, he’d greet me with outstretched arms, a huge smile and say, “LITTLE NINA!” He always made me feel special. Sending lots of love to the whole family during this difficult time.
"Lunch with Jerry". Jerry Wedren could be very spontaneous and I fondly recall an invitation from him when he called one time to ask if I had any lunch plans, "Are you in Chicago" I asked and he said "I could be" and explained that he could easily get over to Reagan Airport and be on the next flight to Chicago. So, a few hours later Kathy and I were at O'Hare Arrivals and there he was; coming out of the terminal with no baggage. He explained that he could only stay for the afternoon. On the way back to town I asked if he had ever taken the Frank Lloyd Wright tour around Oak Park and he' said that he always wanted to and further explained that he loved architecture and asked if I knew Richard Meier.. I told him I surely knew Meier's work, especially the Getty Center in L.A., one of the grandest designs in Contemporary architecture.. He told us that he and Meier were old friends and classmates and that had stayed in touch over the years, We proceeded to Oak Park, where Kathy and I were pleased to tour him through the historic district neighborhood, a few blocks from our home. He loved the contrast of the dozen of more extraordinary Wright homes, all late 19th and early 20th c. sitting next to the massive old Victorians, and remarked on the contrast that must have shocked the community in those days.
Jerry was a sparkling conversationalist, and our walk around Oak Park gave us a chance to tell him about other local heroes; Hemingway and Edgar Rice Burroughs, Knowing his love of burger Joints we suggested "Tasty Dog", a popular place with high school kids and he said it sounded fine and in fact he loved it and we did too.. It was a great couple of hours; the tour, the conversation and the lunch, and then we were back in the car for a return trip to O'Hare, A truly wonderful afternoon visit, brief, but memorable.. We loved the spontaneity of it all as we loved Jerry and we will miss him and his cheerful, happy spirit.
Please share a story or memor: Jerry and I became instant friends in our freshman year at Cornell in 1954. We remained friends for the past 60 years or so and enjoyed each other’s company at our fraternity reunions. ( we really were a tight unique group). Jerry came to Buffalo to obtain information about gambling casinos in New York. I introduced him to my father who was a military- man/very stern and well known for his no- noncence candidness. Jerry asked Dad if he knew A certain local politician and his reply was (he’s a g-d fool).After that Jerry would call me or I him. “ You g-d fool, how are you?”he was a gentleman’s gentleman and I shall Miss him very much.
Jerry and I became friends in the 70’s after I assisted him as a lawyer. I loved his sense of humor and his absolute devotion to his son Craig. Jerry was always a delight to be around and our phone calls later certainly kept me entertained. The e we irks was a better place with him in it. May his memory be a blessing.
When my brother and I were children, my father, Gil Kinchen, introduced us to his new associate Jerry. We immediately took a special liking to this charming, humorous, brilliant, warm young man. At the time, my brother was playing clarinet and I was a terribly jealous younger sibling. Without a word, Jerry appeared one day at our door presenting me with his own beautiful, wooden clarinet, telling me with a twinkle in his eye, to play well and take good care of the instrument so that I could give it back to him some day. More than four decades later with my father, I saw Jerry again at the CWRU reunion in Miami for the Cleveland Orchestra. With that same old twinkle in his eye, he immediately asked me about the clarinet. I told him how his clarinet has been my constant companion, following me from my life in Cleveland to Italy then to Florida, where I currently reside.
Since the outbreak of coronavirus, I have kept my wits by resuming playing the clarinet. It has always been a constant reminder of Jerry's generosity, a man my family adored and respected. Today, I will be practicing in his memory. To all his family and friends, I'm forever grateful to my late father for having the keen sense of recognizing such a special human being.
Can't believe my phone will no longer ring & I will hear "ADEL"(or "BUD ADEL" or "BUD STEIN")----"WEDREN". Gone on forever. Met Jerry in kindergarten at 5 & connected for almost 79 years. Quick story: Roosevelt Jr High biology assignment over christmas vacation--large color drawing of the Circulatory System. Jerry & I each bought one piece of poster board & India Ink in 2 colors. On the Sunday night before vacation ended we went to his house ( they had world book) lay on the living room floor & we each started free hand drawings in vivid color. My guy's head was the size of a ping pong ball Gerry's a tennis ball. His mom was furious--red & blue on carpeting. Grade: Adel -D Wedren-C-
We never forgot it!