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Jerry E. Whalen ’54

December 18, 2020, in Issaquah, Washington, in his sleep.

Growing up in the Great Depression in Portland, Jerry graduated from Grant High School and entered the U.S. Army Air Corps, where he served in the Pacific during the end of World War II. After returning to the States, he began at Reed, and during his first year met Alice Parkis on a blind date. During their courtship, he was called back into service in Korea. They were married in 1951 upon his return. Jerry finished his degree in physics, writing his thesis, “An Observation of Charge Carriers in Silver Chloride Crystals at Room Temperature,” advised by Prof. Frederick Brown [physics 1951–55].

When he was hired by Bell Labs, he and Alice moved to New Jersey with their first baby in tow. While at Bell Labs, Jerry earned a master’s degree in physics from NYU. After five years in New Jersey, he accepted a job as an engineer at Boeing, and the family, which had now grown to three girls, moved to Seattle. He was quickly promoted to supervisor and worked on the Minuteman missile project with the U.S. Department of Defense for the majority of his nearly 30 years at Boeing.

When Jerry retired, he and Alice moved to Warrenton, Oregon, achieving their lifelong dream of living at the beach. After 12 years, they moved back to Washington to be closer to their children and grandchildren. Wherever they lived, the pair were involved in church, golf, bridge, and community groups. Jerry was a natural leader, known for his punctuality and his ability to organize and make things happen, always with a smile and a willingness to lend a hand. He loved to sing. Music was a part of his family life, and he sang in barbershop quartets, in church choirs, and in the Rusty Chords at Timber Ridge, the retirement home he lived in.

Alice died a few months prior to Jerry, who is survived by his three daughters, Carol Hibbard, Diana Taylor, and Julie Churchill.

Appeared in Reed magazine: March 2023

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