Rev. Dr. Todd Grant Yonkman, Transitional Senior Minister
First Congregational Church of Granby
Funeral for Gerald Dickerson
13 July 2019
Gerald A. Dickerson was born in Dickinson, ND December 3, 1932. He on June 30–just over a week ago–after an 8 year battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Jerry grew up poor in rural Montana. He and his brother were raised by a single mom who worked tirelessly to provide for her boys. Life was hard. Opportunities were few. Corrine commented that it was a miracle Jerry and his brother Dale didn’t end up in jail. Work provided the structure Jerry needed to move forward in his life. He was hardworking, high energy, and had a love baseball. In fact, he was a top pitching prospect until pleurisy, which he developed while working at a dry cleaner, ended his baseball career.
Jerry graduated Brooklyn High School, Brooklyn, OH, Class of 1940. After that he went to Baldwin Wallace College where he joined the Reserve Officers Training Corps. After graduation from college, Jerry was commissioned as an officer in the United States Marine Corps. He served in the USMC for over 20 years until his retirement in 1992. After his retirement, he worked with The Hartford Insurance Company and then Farmers and Trader’s Insurance Company in insurance sales and as a general manager.
Jerry is remembered as a fun and intelligent man, if not always super handy around the house. For example, one time he purchased a new lawn mower. He brought it home, got it out of the car, set it up in the lawn, and yanked on the pull cord ‘til his arm was sore. Frustrated, he called the place where he purchased it. They sent a service guy out to see what was wrong with the brand new mower. The service guy looked it over. Nothing wrong. Then he turned to Jerry, “Did you put gas in it?” You know what happens next.
Jerry had a large, loving family. His wife, Corrine. Five children, 11 grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren, who will miss him very much.
Earlier in the service Brenna read to us from Ecclesiastes. It’s a relatively well known piece of Scripture as far as Scripture goes. My guess this is due primarily to Pete Seeger, who wrote the song “Turn! Turn! Turn!” based on this text back in the 1950s, which the Byrds then covered and made it into a hit.
What is it about this text that we love so much? It seems so matter of fact. No earth shattering truths here. “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
2 a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance . . .” and so on.
For me, what this text does is invite us to be present every moment to this very moment, to face whatever it is we’re facing, to feel whatever it is we’re feeling, to accept whatever gift the universe is offering us and embrace it as our life, our one precious life, to drink deeply, to live fully, to love completely, and then let go trusting that whatever season we find ourselves in–whether its a season of joy or grief of building up or breaking down, or planting or plucking up, of living or of dying, it is in this very season that we will find God.