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Gerald (“Jerry”) O’Neil Windham of Madison, Alabama, died April 11, 2021 aged sixty-one years. A service will be held in his memory and honor on April 25 at 2:00 P.M. at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Madison.
Jerry was born on December 29, 1959 in the Starkville, Mississippi at the intersection of small-town charm and college-town enrichment. He grew up with, and retained throughout life, a deep and abiding love for the beauties of nature and the town of his birth – the latter growing all the fonder to him as the home of his alma mater, Mississippi State University, from which he graduated in 1982.
After moving to Madison to find employment as a mechanical engineer, Jerry decided to spend some of the time he was spending under the canopies of the forest under the trusses of the church instead, becoming a founding member of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church. Over the years he remained a constant in the life of the church and it became another of the great loves of his life. He would often take time to care for the grounds of the church, especially in its early years. He watched the growth of the church with a wholesome pride not entirely unlike what a father feels towards his children. Sometimes he would plant beautiful flowers there that reminded him of his deceased father.
In the same season of his life, Jerry met and fell in love with his very own Southern belle, Karla. The couple deepened their bond with such romantic outings as candle-lit dinners, getaways to the Smokey Mountains, and cutting the church grass on hot summer days. They were married in June of 1993 and honeymooned in the Florida Keys. Ultimately the Windham household would include three children: Eric, Tyler, and Nathan. He often took his children to national and state parks during the summers both to be in nature and for historical education. Jerry would live to see each reach adulthood.
In his professional life, Jerry worked for the Chrysler Corporation and then the Department of Defense. In the latter capacity, he worked on the Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter project for many years. Upon completion, he was proud of his role in the project, though likely not as proud as he was of the patent he held as a result of innovations he had made while working for Chrysler. The plaque detailing his patent hung in his office near a slightly battered wildlife refuge sign and a map of the State of Mississippi.
Always an intense lover of music, Jerry was intent, in his later years, on learning to play the guitar. He spent many hours listening to and then trying to imitate music he loved or searching for tickets for himself and Karla for their next concert. Combining two of his loves into one, he sang in the St. Matthew’s choir and liked to strum simple religious melodies on his well-cared-for Gibson acoustic.
Jerry’s protracted battle with his terminal condition was far more painful than he could have ever deserved. That pain is now over, having ended when he passed; but, though passed from us, Jerry will never truly be gone. His unblemished memory will forever remain in the hearts of those who knew him.
In lieu of flowers, it is his family’s belief that Jerry would prefer donations to:
St. Matthews Episcopal Church, 786 Hughes Road, Madison, AL 35758.
Sunday, May 2, 2021
Starts at 2:00pm (Central time)
St. Matthew's Episcopal Church
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