Geraldine “Jerry” “Jeri” Sue Howard Pade was born on May 8, 1930, at 6:15 am, in McCook Nebraska. She was born to her parents Bertha Eleanor Brown Howard (Mother), and Elbert Earl Howard (Father). Her brother, Jack Jarvis Howard, was 5 years old at the time of her birth. Jeri’s parents were expecting another boy, so the name Gerald had been pre-selected. After the surprise of having a girl; they chose Geraldine and called her “Jerry” from that point on. At the age of 3 years old, her parents bought land across the river five miles south of town. The family moved into a cabin on the river while all the crops were being planted. Soon a new farmhouse was built, and this would be home for over 10 years. Jerry attended the single building, two story brick country school, and took care of her daily chores. At the age of ten, she was taking phone orders for their famous white & yellow sweet corn, green beans, peas, onions, and various kinds of squash. Jerry loved to ride to town with her older brother Jack and make the deliveries. Jerry fondly spoke of those years growing up on that small farm. Her bedroom was on the third floor of the house and she could see clear across the river into the night lights of McCook. She learned a lot about weather, crops, animals, the stars, and the hard work it took to maintain that small farm.
In 1941, WWII started with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Jerry’s brother, Jack, had his parents sign his enlistment papers to join the Navy. He was only 17 years old at the time. Jerry saw both her brother and uncle Bob off toward the small-town train station. It broke her heart to see them leave. She prayed every night for their safe return. A few years later, her parents sold the farm and bought a house in town on Main Street. Jerry really enjoyed living in town. She attended McCook high school where she made great lifelong friends. Both her brother and uncle returned safely at the end of the war. In 1947, Jerry was crowned Miss Republican Valley. She traveled by train across southern Nebraska giving speeches and danced with Governor Peterson at the formal state ball. Several months later she met her future husband Eugene “Gene” Pade. Gene had returned home to McCook after being away at war and completing school. He took over the responsibility of running the Pade family furniture store. Jerry used to baby sit for Gene’s niece, Donnalee, and was invited to the Pade family birthday dinner party. Both Gene and Jerry had heard a lot about each other but had never met. It only took a few dates and they were convinced that it was meant to be. About three weeks after Jerry graduated from high school, they were married on June 20, 1948. Gene was 22 years old and Jerry was 18 years old. After returning from their honeymoon, Jerry helped Gene run the family business. Stephen Mark Pade was born on March 6, 1951 and Mark Howard Pade was born on August 31, 1959. Jerry had her hands full with raising two boys and working at the furniture store.
In 1962, Gene & Jerry sold their home and furniture business and moved to California. After renting apartments in Lakewood and Costa Mesa; they final bought a home in Huntington Beach. Gene had attended Barber College and was cutting hair for a living and Jerry was a stay at home mother. Jerry became restless and decided she wanted to go to college and pursue a teaching credential. So, in 1965 at the age of 35, she went to college. Jerry’s brother Jack and family had moved to California earlier in the mid 1950’s. Her parents followed them all out by 1965 as well.
Jerry was so happy to have her family close by once again. Her early hard work ethic helped her through this challenging period of her life. Jerry always joked that this effort was due to a lot of prayer and a lot of coffee. Her efforts paid off and in 1969 at the age of 39, she graduated from Long Beach State University. At this point, “Jerry” became “Jeri”, this was the new version.
Jeri taught for one year with the Garden Grove School District, and 25 years with the Ocean View School District. She was well loved by her peers and students alike. A lot of her former students have kept in touch with her all these years, a true testament of what a great teacher she was. Jerry lost her mother in 1969 and her father in 1975. She lost her brother, Jack, in 1983, about the same time her husband Gene was diagnosed with Harry Cell Leukemia. This was one of the hardest times of her life. She read the Bible day & night and prayed through this period. Jeri always said it was her faith that saw her through the toughest times in her life. Even with all that was happening in her life, she somehow found the energy to go back to school at the age of 54 and earned her M.A. degree in Education, from San Diego International University. Gene survived the Leukemia and lived to be 84 years old before passing on February15, 2010. Jeri said her absolute joy in life was her three granddaughters Allison, Julia, and Hope; which she referred to as precious angel #1, #2, and #3. She so cherished her relationship with her daughter-in-law Tina and would constantly complement her son for marrying so well.
Jeri taught her sons not to be judgmental for only God can judge others. She would say, you don’t know all the circumstances involved and everyone deserves a second or a third chance. Besides, they might be having a really bad day, or they could be going through a tough time. Best of all, she would say don’t look for the faults in people, no one’s perfect. Look for their good qualities and love them for those. This is probably why she had so many friends and was loved by so many. She truly was an amazing woman.
Jeri peacefully passed away in her sleep with her family at her side on June 4, 2019 at 8:50 am, in Costa Mesa, California.
I Corinthians 15:52-55, 57 “In a moment, in a twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” Amen
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