Cerro Gordo County Iowa
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Obituary - H. J. "Jerry" Dwyer

The Globe Gazette
Mason City, Cerro Gordo County, Iowa
February 28, 2016

CLEAR LAKE, IOWA - H.J. "Jerry" Dwyer, 85, of Clear Lake, Iowa, went home to be with our Lord and Savior on Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016, at the Muse Norris Hospice Center in Mason City, Iowa.

A celebration of life will be held on Saturday, March 5, at 11 a.m., at the Surf Ballroom and Museum in Clear Lake with the Rev. Dr. Pat Hall of Zion Lutheran Church, Clear Lake, officiating. Military honors will be provided by the Clear Lake V.F.W.

Visitation will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. on Friday, March 4, at Ward-Van Slyke Colonial Chapel in Clear Lake, and then one hour before the service at the Surf Ballroom.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the Winter Dance Party c/o Jerry & Barbara Dwyer Scholarship Fund or to Hospice of North Iowa.

On Oct. 11, 1930, Hubert Jerome (Jerry) Dwyer, was born the son of Martin James and Martha Louise (Rexroat) Dwyer, in Chicago, Ill. He was the youngest of four children. At age 11, he went to Mattoon, Ill., to live with his grandparents, James and Edna Rexroat. They lived next to the Mattoon airport, which sparked his interest in aviation. When he was 15 years old, he bought his first airplane, but was too young to own it so they had to license it in his grandmother's name.

Jerry graduated from Mattoon High School in 1948. He participated in football and track, where he was an Illinois State Track Champion. After studying Aeronautical Engineering at the University of Illinois, Champagne, Jerry worked for Ozark Airlines, under the direction of famed aviation pioneer, Roscoe Turner.

During the Korean Conflict, Jerry joined the National Guard and was activated into the Air Force. He was based in Sioux City, Iowa, and helped open the base and train mechanics and crew chiefs.

While in Sioux City, Jerry met the love of his life, Barbara Sams. It was love at first sight and six months later they were married. To this union four children were born: Jeffrey Jerome (deceased), Kim Alan, Kirk Martin, and Dawn Renee.

In 1955, Jerry founded Dwyer Flying Service. They operated in Oelwein, Charles City, and in 1957 they moved the company to the Mason City Airport, where they remained until his retirement in 2003.

In 1959, Jerry had the unfortunate, first-hand experience of the famous aviation accident, where his employee and friend, Roger Peterson, Buddy Holly, J.P. Richardson (The Big Bopper), and Ritchie Valens were killed in his airplane. This would forever change the course of his life. Instead of allowing this to define him in a negative way, he embraced and loved the families and spent time with them each year at the Winter Dance Party, where he loved to dance with Barbara and enjoy the music!

Jerry was an entrepreneur and very diversified in his aviation business. During the Vietnam years, he obtained an aircraft paint contract with the US Government and painted a third of all of the US Army aircraft. He was also one of the first aircraft operators to be licensed to fly hazardous materials. This led him to work as a contractual feeder air service with Purolator Courier, UPS, FED EX, and AIRBORNE. Jerry also started DWYAIR, a branch operation located at the Minneapolis International Airport.

He taught thousands of people how to fly and many of those pilots he mentored have gone on to pursue careers in professional aviation. He was a great encourager and cared very much about all of his employees. Jerry was the corporate pilot for Northwestern States Portland Cement Company in Mason City, and flew for many corporations, government agencies, and dignitaries. He was a Certified Aircraft Examiner with the Federal Aviation Administration. Jerry was a big promoter of many air shows and aviation days. One of his favorite experiences was when he got to fly with the THUNDERBIRDS! Another highlight for him was when he turned 50 he flew the GOODYEAR BLIMP!

In 2005, Jerry was inducted into the IOWA AVIATION HALL of FAME.

In 2008, he was the first ever recipient of two Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) awards at the same time. He received the Wilbur and Orville Wright Brother's Master Mechanic Award and the Charles Taylor Federal Aviator Award.

He also received commendations and was honored by the US Congress and the Iowa State Legislature for his outstanding contribution to aviation.

Jerry logged more than 44,000 hours of flight time in his career, making him one of the highest time pilots in the world.

Jerry was a member of the Jaycees, the Mason City Rotary Club, the Shriners, and the VFW. He served on the Board of the National Business Aviation Association, was past President of the board of the American Red Cross, on the Iowa Board of the American Cancer Society. He served as a FIRST MATE and volunteer for the Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce.

Jerry's accomplishments in aviation paled in comparison to his love of people.

His true joy in life was his family and friends. He enjoyed attending events at Clear Lake Schools and following all of the kids, not just his own. He especially enjoyed being recognized by the Clear Lake Schools as a SUPER FAN!

He was preceded in death by his grandparents; his parents; his son, Dr. Jeffrey Dwyer; his father and mother-in-law, Harold and Esther Sams; a sister, Mary Louise Cole; his brother and sister-in-law, Leland and Marilyn Sams; and nephew, David Sams; along with many uncles and aunts.

Jerry is survived by his wife of 63 years, Barbara; son Kim (Suzy) Dwyer, Clear Lake; son Kirk (friend Tracey) Dwyer, Anchorage, AK; daughter Dawn (Douglas) Southwick, Clear Lake, IA.; and daughter-in-law, Cheryl (Bo) Cote, Indian Wells, CA.

Grandchildren include: Andrew (Angela) Dwyer, Alex Dwyer, Michael (friend Janelle) Dwyer, Scott (friend Anna) Dwyer, Cory Dwyer, Matthew (fiance Lynne) Dwyer, Danielle (Derek) Adolf; Donna, George, Angel, and Nancy Jackson-Dwyer; Hillary Southwick, Harrison Southwick and Halston Southwick.

There are five great-grandchildren and two more expected to arrive in April 2016; two brothers, The Very Rev. Martin James (Becky) Dwyer, Boise, ID, and John Patrick (friend Patricia) Dwyer, San Diego, CA, and many nephews and nieces. He will be remembered for his faith in GOD, his thankful heart, generous spirit, and caring influence. Jerry was a friend to all he met.

Ward-Van Slyke Colonial Chapel, 101 N. Fourth St., Clear Lake, Iowa, 641-357-2193, ColonialChapels.com.

Submission by K.L. Kittleson, February of 2016

 

 

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