Jerry Howard Harsh, age 87, died Wednesday, April 15 2020, of Covid-19 at Swedish Hospital in Englewood Colorado.
Jerry was born during the Great Depression on November 17, 1932, to Howard and Gladys Harsh, in a farmhouse in Cole County Missouri just outside of Jefferson City. The farmhouse had no indoor plumbing, no electricity and was heated by a wood burning stove. His father, Howard, paid the doctor attending Jerry’s birth with money he earned selling popcorn raised on the farm to the local movie theater.
As a nine-year-old Jerry got his first taste of driving by demonstrating the tractors his father sold to the local farmers, who were skeptical about giving up their mule-powered equipment. But Jerry showed them that even a child could do it. Jerry’s love of driving and cars stayed with him for life.
Jerry attended public school in two-room schoolhouses in Jefferson City, and graduated from Jefferson City High School and Junior College in 1950. In high school he discovered a love for performing, acting in school plays and singing in the barber shop quartet.
He attended the University of Missouri in Columbia as a psychology major until dropping out in 1953 to join the army just weeks after the end of the Korean war. He went through basic training at Camp Pickett, VA, and then trained as a neuro-psychiatric technician at Fort Sam Houston in Texas. He served in the psychiatric ward at Fitzsimmons Army Hospital in Aurora, CO, before joining the 4th Medical Battalion in Frankfurt, Germany, where he bought a red MG sports car that he brought back to the US, and which figured prominently in the courtship of his future wife.
He returned to the University of Missouri at Columbia in 1956 and received a business degree in 1958.
After being turned down for a date with her sister, Marion, Jerry asked Doris Dearing on a date that involved the aforementioned red MG. They were engaged three weeks later and married on April 12, 1957 in Jefferson City. Their marriage lasted more than 60 years until Doris died in 2017.
Jerry and Doris moved to Denver, CO, where Jerry began working at Empire Savings, and then Blue Cross and Blue Shield. They bought a house on South Ivy Way where they lived for more than 50 years. Their son, Sam, was born in 1962 and their daughter, Joslyn ,in 1964.
Jerry and Doris purchased an automotive starter and alternator rebuilding business in 1977, Chris Rebuilders, Inc., and ran it until their retirement in 1997.
During his lifetime, Jerry pursued many hobbies including hunting, race car driving, welding sculpture, working with leather, acting in community theater and writing and reciting cowboy poetry.
The family would like to thank the excellent staff at Swedish Hospital for arranging video chats with Jerry during the Coronavirus lockdown. Donations can be made to Help Colorado Now (https://helpcoloradonow.org/), which provides personal protective equipment for nursing homes and assisted living facilities, or to your favorite COVID charity.
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