Jerry L. Woolley
Last updated 9/20/2023 at 4:44pm | View PDF
Jerry L. Woolley, 90, formerly of Homewood, died Sept. 6, 2023, at an assisted living home in Hinsdale.
Jerry was born in LaCrosse, Wis., in 1932 to Florence (Rabbit) and Claude Woolley. As a young teen in LaPorte, Ind., in the 1940s, Jerry frequently boarded the train by himself destined for Chicago, where he went to venues that hosted live blues music. In high school Jerry excelled in butterfly and breaststroke swimming events. He put his swimming skills to work as a lifeguard saving lives at Stone Lake. His swimming talent earned a two-year scholarship at Ohio University in Athens. Jerry received a bachelor's degree in community health from George Williams College in Downers Grove and went on to attend John Marshall Law School in Chicago.
As a young professional, Jerry served as a director of the YMCA in Oak Park and the Sears YMCA on Chicago's West Side. Jerry would open the Sears Y facility after hours for local resident Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and family. Jerry observed the burning of the local neighborhood alongside King from the rooftop of the Y. Jerry lived his life valuing people by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin.
Jerry met his future wife, Alice, at an Oak Park restaurant on Nov. 21, 1963. Plans changed for their first date the following day with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, from dinner out to the living room and a six pack of Budweiser to watch the televised aftermath.
Alice and Jerry were married in May 1964 at the Frank Lloyd Wright Unity Temple of Oak Park, with the reception at the Oak Park Arms. Calling Homewood home for more than 45 years, Jerry and Alice raised two girls who learned the game of golf as members of Flossmoor Country Club for several decades.
Jerry served as a regional director of the National Kidney Foundation and the executive director of the American Diabetes Association. From his downtown Chicago office Jerry took in the Lake Michigan view, and lunches often took place at Exchequer and Manny's Deli.
Jerry was preceded in death by his wife, Alice, nee VanCleave; and his son, Keith Woolley.
He is survived by his daughters, Karen Woolley (formerly Hood) of Hinsdale and Susan (Nate) Steiner; and his grandchildren Ryan, AJ, Emma and Allie.
A celebration of his life will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 27, at Tews-Ryan Funeral Home, 18230 S. Dixie Highway, Homewood.