You could say Jerry was Mr. Pickleball for all he did for our sport and club. But Jerry said playing was more than about pickleball; it was about family. He was family, and our friend, but he was also more than a friend. He was a mentor, supporter, confidant and encourager.
It all started in February, 2009, when Jerry & Orv Askelund approached Sue Bohnsack at the Eden Prairie Senior Center about introducing pickleball at the Eden Prairie Community Center. Intro sessions started shortly after. In the summer of 2010, Jerry worked with Sue to stripe 2 courts using tennis nets at Pioneer Park and a year later to stripe 4 and later 6 courts at Pioneer using temporary nets which he got the city to buy with a USAPA grant he secured. And he built benches for the courts as well as the courts at Riley Lake Park and Franlo Park.
In 2010, Jerry organized and formed the Southwest Metro Pickleball Club. He was president for 4 years. In 2013, started the paperwork to make SWMPC a 501c3 and got the entire process completed.
In 2013, the City of Eden Prairie approached Jerry about the club hosting a July 4th tournament. He assisted extensively in organizing and served as the emcee. He continued this large role for 5 years. In 2014, Jerry was instrumental in getting the Miracle Ear tournament started. He helped in many roles especially finding sponsors.
Jerry helped with getting permanent courts at the Chan Recreation Center and Franlo Park. He was continuing the effort along with others to get 8 courts built at Staring Lake Park, which was his dream.
Jerry was a USAPA ambassador and helped a number of communities secure grants from the USAPA. He taught numerous groups of beginners the game of pickleball in various cities in the metro area and helped introduce pickleball at Owatonna, Albert Lea, North Oaks, Jordan and a number of other communities.
He and wife Carol were the club photographers at many events and tournaments.
Jerry was also a good pickleball player. In 2014, Jerry won gold in men’s doubles at Owatonna. In 2014, Jerry won silver in men’s doubles at the MN Senior Games and qualified for the National Senior games.
Jerry also had a great life outside of Pickleball. He was a member and past president of the Corvette club and was past president of their town home association. He built many beautiful wood cabinets, tables and other items for his church. Even with his busy schedule he made time to watch his grandchildren play their various sports.
Jerry also did much more, but to Jerry, pickleball was primarily about having fun. After hitting a good shot, he had this laugh that made his whole body shake.
Keep laughing dear friend.