Each community has special people in it that make it unique. On Aug. 28, the Lewistown area lost one of its special people, Gerald Rishel. Gerald, known as Jerry, passed away while attending a Spikes baseball game with the Lewistown Rotary Club.
Jerry's obituary told us some things about his life. It spoke of his membership at the Trinity United Church of Christ, and of his membership in the Lewistown Rotary Club, the Lewistown Community Band, and his former membership in the Jaycees. The obituary also told us that he owned and operated his own architectural business for 40 years. There is so much more that he contributed during his time with us, and his service will continue to impact our local community for years to come.
Let me share with you additional anecdotes about Jerry, who truly was one of the keystones of our community.
Jerry's architectural business spanned nearly the course of my life. In fact, he worked on architectural designs for many local structures, including the following: the wall and steps in the Bon Ton parking lot and the redesign of the Community Partnership Resource Conservation and Development building at 23 N. Main St. in Lewistown.
Jerry loved music. He played the tuba in the Lewistown Community Band and sang in his church's choir. He also worked to better the community as a member of the Jaycees and the local Rotary club.
As a member of Rotary, Jerry was a past president and lieutenant governor. He also was the person in charge of writing the weekly "Rota-Record." After each meeting, Jerry would call various members to make sure that his information was accurate, and then he would write the record. It always ended up in my mailbox on Friday morning, like clockwork. While no one is sure exactly when Jerry began writing the "Rota-Record," everyone is sure that he had been doing it for many, many years.
At our Rotary meeting this week, many Rotarians stood up and reminisced about Jerry. Many spoke of his involvement with the "Rota-Record" and how he would call them after the meeting. They went on to say that the phone call always included a story or two, or more that only Jerry, with his unique humor, could tell.
It was comforting to hear some of the stories about how proud Jerry was to be a Rotarian. In fact, one Rotarian told of how, just minutes before his passing, Jerry gave a fellow Rotarian a hard time about not wearing his Rotary hat to the ballgame. Jerry was there in his Rotary hat and shirt.
Several Rotarians stood in the parking lot after the meeting and continued to reminisce. Rotary President Geoff Burke told us he was sorry he did not have a chance to call Jerry back on the day Jerry died. Geoff said Jerry had left a message on his cell phone earlier in the day.
Geoff recalled how the message included one of Jerry's laughs.
We all wanted to hear his voice and that unique laugh, so Geoff played the message for us after this week's Rotary meeting. After listening to the message, we all felt comforted that Jerry left the current president of Rotary a bit of himself that could be shared with others.
At Jerry's funeral, one of the hymns we sang was "Just as I am, Without one Plea." That is how God takes us, just as we are. Some people fade away, but Jerry slid into his eternal home, doing what he loved to do and surrounded by people he loved.
Jerry enjoyed his life and contributed to his community right up to the end. May Jerry's life be an inspiration to others in the community. I know he left an impression on his fellow Rotarians. We'll miss you, Jerry.
Ruth Eddy is the publisher of The Sentinel and a Lewistown Rotary Club member.