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Life Story / Obituary
Determined and hard-working, Jerry Mansfield was a genuine person through and through. A devoted husband, father, and grandfather he savored the time he spent with his growing family over the years. Jerry lived his life to the fullest by working hard to provide for the family he loved. Generous, reliable, and humble, he will be deeply missed by all who knew him.
As the country trudged forward from WWll, the 1940’s became a time of great innovation. New products became household names. The first Polaroid camera was sold, Scrabble board games found their way to kitchen tables, and in 1948 Howdy Doody hit the TV airwaves. That same year, William Jack and Dessie (Henderson) Mansfield welcomed home their firstborn son, Jerry, on May 10th in Hornersville, Missouri. Later joined by his eleven siblings, his childhood was filled with many happy and memorable moments.
During Jerry’s childhood, the family moved often. As a result, he was familiar with the challenges of meeting new friends as well as saying goodbye to the good ones at an early age. He enjoyed going to visit his Aunt Bonnie and Uncle Chock, who lived in California, where he climbed the fence to get into their yard. Typical of the times, most summer days were spent swimming in the local river or playing with the kids from the neighborhood. He bought himself a guitar and a chord book and taught himself to play. With hours of practice, he was able to master the guitar cementing his lifelong love for music.
Before he knew it, he was drafted into the United States Army during the Vietnam War. His father was a WWII veteran, and although Jerry grew up with the pride of serving his country, he was not eager to experience the grief of combat. As a member of Delta Company in the 82nd Airborne, Jerry was known for his outgoing friendship and devotion to his fellow soldiers. He was trained as a mortarman and during his years of service he earned both the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart. While on duty, he was wounded by shrapnel after stepping on a booby trap. This metal remained in his body throughout his life. He was able to earn his GED while serving and looked back on his time serving our country with great pride.
Jerry started a construction business soon after he was discharged. He loved the work as he was able to use both his mind as well as his hands. His God given ability to design led him to design and build feed mills and other buildings including the family home where he and his wife, Barbara, settled while raising their family. The two of them met through a family connection at a funeral. At first sight, Jerry was head over heels. Barbara was a bit more reluctant. During his deployment, Jerry’s grandmother, the quintessential matchmaker, encouraged them to write. The many letters the couple shared (which Barbara still has to this day) won her heart. Once married, they were eager to start a family of their very own and together they raised two wonderful children; Ann and Michael.
As a family, they enjoyed spending much of their time outdoors or taking road trips. They visited many places across the country including Niagara Falls, Mount Rushmore, the Grand Canyon, and the giant Redwoods in California. They loved to camp near rivers, creeks, and lakes where they could also fulfill their joy of rafting. A talented musician, when Jerry wasn’t helping with the general construction and maintenance of the church, he was singing and playing his guitar during worship. He also played at the nursing home in Lawton, sharing his comforting melodies with those in need of some cheer.
As much as Jerry reveled in his years as a father, his heart overflowed when his family was blessed with grandchildren. They too grew fond of his singing and guitar playing. From the moment they were born, Jerry made them his greatest priority. He helped teach them to sing so the family could play and sing as a group. Supportive and encouraging, he never passed up an opportunity to attend their many special school activities and sporting events. His grandchildren always knew they were special to their Pepaw. He taught his granddaughter to say her own name for the very first time and when his grandson was badly burned he was the first one to pray for his healing and comfort. Not only was his grandson healed, but his family was blessed with his remarkable ability to bring them peace during a difficult time. Jerry shared many of the wondrous gifts of his life with the family he so loved. He led by example, teaching them strong family values and to simply do the right thing for the right reasons. May they always live their lives as a reflection of his steadfast compassion for others and may his warm memories live on in their hearts forever.
Jerry Mansfield, age 72, of Portage, Michigan died on August 15, 2020. Jerry was preceded in death by his parents, Jack and Dessie; his grandson, Joshua Dale Smith; and his brother, Larry Mansfield. Surviving are his wife, Barbara; children: Ann (Nathan) Taylor and Michael (Rebecca) Mansfield; grandchildren: Jeremy (Caitlynn) Smith, Dylana Smith, Jacob Smith, Eloise Mansfield, and Brodie Mansfield; siblings: Rita Crouch, Danny (Loretta) Mansfield, Elaine Stinnett, Evelyn (David) Curry, Karen (Jim) Chabitch, Phil (Kim) Mansfield, Harold Mansfield, Lynette McEndarfer, Anita DeMara, and Joel Mansfield; and many nieces and nephews. A private Life Story gathering will be held with burial at Oak Grove Cemetery in Lawton. Visit Jerry’s personal webpage at www.BetzlerLifeStory.com where you may archive a favorite memory or photo, and sign his online guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to Section Collection. Arrangements by Betzler & Thompson Life Story Funeral Home, 60900 M40 Hwy, Paw Paw, (269) 657-3870.