Celebrating life stories...



This memorial is sponsored by:

Kelly Smith

Memorial created 05-31-2009 by
Kelly Smith
Jerry A Waldvogel
December 24 1953 - May 30 2009

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06-02-2009 11:07 AM -- By: George McManus,  From: Univ of Connecticut  

Sincere condolences

06-02-2009 10:53 AM -- By: Tammy McNutt-Scott,  From: Biological Sciences Faculty  

I will miss his ready smile and jocularity.  My sincerest condolences to his family. 

06-02-2009 10:51 AM -- By: Anneke Metz,  From: Montana State University  

 My sincere condolences to your entire family on your loss. Jerry made outstanding contributions to SCST, and will be missed. 

06-02-2009 10:47 AM -- By: Laurel Hester,  From: Cornell University  

 I just met Jerry last year after hearing about him for years both from Cornell people and from people I knew from my time in South Carolina.  He made a huge difference in the lives of people he touched and worked hard to improve biology education in the state of South Carolina and beyond.  I know he will be missed greatly by many people.  I wish I had had the chance to know him better.

06-02-2009 10:44 AM -- By: William Kimler,  From: NC State and Shoals Marine Lab  

To know Jerry is to love and enjoy him.  He was a breath of fresh air as a grad school pal at Cornell, always a rigorous and generous intellectual colleague, a master teacher, and a dear friend.  But the oddest moment in years of friendship had to be that first Thanksgiving that we sat across the table from each other as new brothers--in-law.  How lucky we were to find the Savage family, and how lucky I was to  grow even closer through Sherry and Sarah.

Jerry knew the nobility of scientific knowledge, strong thinking, getting things right -- and the generosity of spirit to go with a quest for understanding.  How was he such a magnificent teacher?  He cared about not only what people understand, but how they think. With respect, but firmness, there always had to be a way to move us to a higher understanding.  It also helped that he had the physical grace, the humor and wit, and the organizational skill to be clear.  With a mind for detail, the grasp of larger questions, and deep love for the natural world and its evolutionary wonders, he led us to love of learning. 

That sounds so serious.  We all know it went with a happy spirit, an embrace of life in all its absurdities and its joys. 

06-02-2009 10:42 AM -- By: Steve Nowicki,  From: Duke University  

This is a long post, which I wrote on Saturday after hearing about Jerry’s passing.  I wrote it to feel better.  It’s just some thoughts about all that Jerry meant to me…


I met Jerry in my first year of graduate school, in 1977.  We found ourselves sitting next to each other on a flight out of San Jose, Costa Rica.  Long story how we got there – a Cornell trip is all that matters.  The San Jose airport is ringed by mountains and so when a plane takes off, it has to gain altitude very fast.   Roller coaster fast.  The plane takes off and suddenly we find ourselves shooting skyward, pressed tightlyagainst our seats, with many of the passengers getting sick and those who are holding onto their lunch protesting loudly against the sudden increase in G force.   But Jerry and I look at each other and say with glee “Whoa, that’s a great rush!”  That’s when it became apparent that we had something in common.


Sometime after we returned from Central America, Jerry asked about finding a house together.  I went over to his place to talk about it.  Jerry lived in a nice but expensive apartment.   I lived in a hole of a basement apartment and I aspired to nicer digs.  Based on our plane ride and some other adventures in Costa Rica, Jerry must have thought I was a reasonable bet as a roommate.  We talked about two things I can remember:  music and women.  Jerry had a bunch of albums I didn’t recognize and played me a few.  I suppose he wondered if he could tolerate my taste in music, or if I could tolerate his.  I remember one album Jerry played very well.  It was “Waiting for Columbus” by Little Feat.  Great album!  About 6 or 7 years later I played that album for my eventually-to-become wife, Susan, hoping to impress her.  It worked.  I heard a lot of music I wouldn’t have heard otherwise if it weren’t for Jerry.  And that’s just a microcosm for how Jerry opened my eyes to many things in this world.  Thanks, Jerry. 


Jerry and I found a house.  Our third roommate was a nice guy, but quiet and he moved out after a year.  I don’t remember how we found Hal, although it certainly had something to do with Biology and girls.  Hal knew a posse of undergrads– MaryJane, Laine, Maria, Ellen, Pooley, and a few others whose names I’ve forgotten – and these were a magnet that drew us to a few  parties at Hal’s house.  Hal was cool, and he certainly knew some girls, so Jerry and I invited him to join us in our house.  In many ways, Jerry, Hal, and I were about as different as three people can be.  But we proved to be a great set of roommates and we lived together very contentedly for 4 years.  We became “German Cross Associates.”  GXA had the best parties, and anyone who ever went to one would agree.  We supported each other, emotionally, financially, and otherwise.  Grad school was hard.  I wouldn’t have made it without GXA.  And, of Jerry, Hal, and me, Jerry was the true soul of GXA.  Thanks, Jerry.


Somewhere along the way, William became the 4th GXAer.  William only lived at GXA transiently, over summers for example, when he was between apartments and when either Hal or I were out of town doing research elsewhere.  But by the end of the GXA run, which would have been around 1984, William was as much a part of GXA as anyone, and this made GXA complete.  Then our landlord died, his wife sold the place, and we had to move out.  I was about to defend my thesis and found refuge in Pat and Doug’s barn apartment.  Jerry, who had already finished his Ph.D. and was now a post-doc working with the intro bio program, found a very nice A-frame bungalow to live in.  Hal and Will found dispersed digs as well.  We were all on the way out of Ithaca and things were unsettled.  Through this transition, Jerry remained the focus for us GXAers – as he remained over the following decades.  Thanks, Jerry.


My wife Susan recalls the first time she met Jerry.  Susan was my “new girlfriend” at the time.  Meeting my family was easy.  But meeting my GXA family -- now that was serious!  And Susan knew intuitively that Jerry was the soul of my GXA family.  Of course, Jerry accepted everyone for who they are, and so Susan was in no danger of rejection on that front.  Some time later, when Susan and I were getting married, I remember Jerry telling me something to the effect of “You treat her well because you’re lucky to have her.”  This was both true and good advice to hear.  Thanks, Jerry.  


Jerry met Sherry at a party at our house in Durham.  Jerry had girlfriends before Sherry, but I know he had only one deep love, and that was Sherry.  And I’m glad he met her at our house.  For all that Jerry did for me, this was the very, very least I could do for him.


I learned more from Jerry that I could possibly say – about Biology, about teaching, and about Life.  If I’ve ever met a bodhisattva, it was Jerry.   I know this is so, because Jerry never claimed to have deep insights or enlightenment.  Those who claim such tend to be charlatans, not bodhisattvas.  Jerry just was insightful and enlightened.  He didn’t talk about it, he didn’t boast about it, he just was it.


One important thing I learned from Jerry is to accept the foibles of others.  Jerry could get as pissed as anyone if he thought injustice was being done, but mostly people just make stupid mistakes.  What we need to do is to help those people, to teach them to not make boneheaded mistakes in the future.  Maybe that’s why so many people loved Jerry.  He accepted them for what they are and always tried to help them.  That’s why I love Jerry.  When he first met me, I was a pretty naïve, stupid person.  I was a very smart person academically, but I was pretty naïve about the world outside my books.  I suppose the fact that my reaction to our very rapid ascent from the San Jose airport was to enjoy the rush, not to fret the fact that we might slam into the mountain, gave Jerry an indication that I had some potential.  Jerry came along at an important time and gave me a good nudge or two in the right direction.  Thanks, Jerry.


It just occurred to me that Jerry told me many years ago about a Grateful Dead song that he thought should be played at his funeral.  This was we were at an age when one talks about such things without the slightest concern that they will ever come to pass, but nonetheless with an earnestness that only younger people can muster when speaking of death.  I can’t remember what that song was right now, although I have a few guesses.  I’ll think about this for a while as I celebrate Jerry’s life and I expect it will come back to me.


06-02-2009 10:41 AM -- By: Melanie Francis,  From: Pittsburgh, PA  

 This news has struck us all suddenly and unexpectedly.  It’s hard to believe that one of the professors who I had grown quite fond of is now gone.  As freshmen last year at Clemson, he was the first professor the class of 2012 was introduced to.  Dr. Waldvogel gave the longest, yet most entertaining speech at our new student convocation- one that helped welcome us all to the university in the most inspiring manner.  


When given the opportunity to work directly with him and Kelly Smith, I (and several others) knew that it was an opportunity that could not be passed up.  As crusaders for evolution, we worked hard throughout the course of the year writing and revising scripts to help get across one of the topics he was most passionate about.  Jerry was always able to figure out and put into words what I actually meant versus what I ended up saying and could find a way to help me without making me feel intimidated or uneasy.  When I was given the job of creating a poster and attending the forum for our project, he stood by me for the entire three hours, helping answer difficult questions.  We really got to know each other that day in particular (at that point we had no choice but to make conversation with each other...) , and it inspired me to work hard through the summer to start up our project again in the fall.  


Jerry Waldvogel was an inspiring professor and an incredibly hardworking man.  He will be most definitely missed next year at Clemson and every year to follow.  As many have said, he is irreplaceable.  


06-02-2009 10:38 AM -- By: Shawna Reid,  From: Central  

I am so sad to hear about Jerry's passing.  My heart really aches for Sherry and Sarah and their whole family.  Jerry and I laughed the other day because I would always see him in the grocery store... I will miss saying hello to him. 

06-02-2009 10:38 AM -- By: Linda Gilbert,  From: Former Student  

I was one of Dr. Waldvogel's biology students in 2003. His love of the subject was apparent during his lectures, and it was obvious he wanted his students to learn and do well. I also worked with Dr. Waldvogel during the Biology Merit Exam where his enthusiam for the program was also clear. I recall Dr. Waldvogel's frequent mentions of his young daughter;  I am sure both she and his wife will miss him dearly.  May God bless and strengthen his entire family. 

06-02-2009 10:36 AM -- By: Clay Freeman,  From: New Hampshire  

06-02-2009 10:26 AM -- By: Margaret Lowery,  From:  

Dr. Waldvogel was an amazing teacher and will be missed greatly by the Clemson Family.

06-02-2009 10:22 AM -- By: Leslie Yasinsac,  From: Irmo  

I am so glad that I got to spend time with Sherry, Jerry, and Sarah while I was at Clemson.  Jerry was a good man, and although the time with him wasn't enough, it was good to have it.

06-02-2009 10:17 AM -- By: Mark Leising,  From: Clemson  

 As an educator, in all senses of the word, Jerry you set the bar impossibly high for the rest of us. You will long be felt around the classrooms, halls and paths of Clemson and of the Clemson Montessori School.

06-02-2009 10:15 AM -- By: Elaine Richardson,  From: Clemson University  

What a tragic loss for the Clemson family!  My first memories of Jerry were when my AVS students would come tell me about the awesome biology professor they had.  I couldn't wait to meet the man.  And boy, were they right. Jerry truly cared about students as individuals and their academic success. He and I were in the process of updating his College Success Skills website so that it could be posted on the ASC website.  He was an awesome man and will be missed in so many ways.  I am proud to call him my friend.  My thoughts and prayers are with his family.

Elaine Richardson (Director, Academic Success Center)

06-02-2009 10:14 AM -- By: Bill Bowerman,  From: Clemson University  

Jerry was an amazing person and someone we will feel the loss of for years to come.  Rest in Peace

06-02-2009 10:14 AM -- By: Linda Nilson,  From: Clemson University  

This is such a terrible loss for the entire Clemson University community.  Jerry was an exceptionally talented and inspiring instructor.  Both his colleagues and his students loved him.  My deepest condolences to his family. 

06-02-2009 10:11 AM -- By: Shelly Geer,  From: Clemson  

I just had the chance to meet Jerry this past January as we were chaperones on a trip with the Edwards Middle School Festival Band.  My son was in his group in the evenings and just thought he was so cool.  And I could tell he cherished his daughter.

My heart goes out to Sherry and Sarah and my thoughts and prayers are with you in this difficult time. 


Shelly, Dave and Matthew Geer

06-02-2009 10:04 AM -- By: Katherine Dobrenen,  From: Clemson University  

06-02-2009 10:00 AM -- By: Janet Dillon,  From: Clemson University  

06-02-2009 9:38 AM -- By: Susan Hilligoss,  From: Clemson, Pearce Center  

Jerry's enthusiasm as a teacher and colleague carried all of us to new places and inspired us to do more. I knew him from our Communication Across the Curriculum gatherings, the ePortfolio initiative, general education, everything that affected undergraduates. He made us laugh and drove us forward. I will miss him mightily.

06-02-2009 9:15 AM -- By: Laurie Vanderwiele,  From: Walhalla SC  

06-02-2009 9:07 AM -- By: Laurie Johnson,  From: Cornell University  

Jerry, you were always one of the best, most fun people to be around.  I always looked forward to working with you and your course at Shoals was one of the most popular.  I appreciated your support, wisdom, common sense and most of all, your humor.  You have made a positive impact on many, many lives and you will be missed.  Love to Sherry and Sarah-keep smiling upon us from where ever you are!  xo

06-02-2009 9:04 AM -- By: Mike Tannenbaum,  From: Marist College  

It is a sad day for Clemson, Cornell, SML, and all those who, like me, interacted with Jerry Waldvogel over the years.

Although I graduated from Cornell (BS in Biology 1975), took Field Marine Science II at Shoals Marine Lab (SML) in 1974,  and graduated from Clemson (PhD in Zoology in 1985), we did not overlap at any of these sites until we finally met in the early 1990's.  Both of us were back in Ithaca for an SML Alumni Symposium, and we quickly realized our shared passion for undergraduate education.  My greatest memory of jerry was a quiet dinner we shared at a small Thai restaurant down on Rt. 13, where we traded stories about SML, Cornell, and Clemson, and also discussed the joy that we both received from teaching. 

The thought I carried away from that only meeting was for me to find a way to work at the same institutiion as Jerry so that I could benefit from his great energy, enthusiasm, wisdon, and zest for both teaching and life.  We managed to stay in touch sporadically by e-mail, and unfortunately he was out of town when I visited Clemson in Fall 2008.  Along with the entire American life science teaching community, I will miss Jerry immensely.

06-02-2009 8:57 AM -- By: Andy Billings,  From: Clemson  

I knew Jerry mostly in the context of Communication Across the Curriculum, but what I'll remember him for most is a great energy and passion, often in the form of spirited debate.  He made connections with people and prioritized it over winning an argument.  He treated people with a great deal of respect and was a man of great honor.  Jerry is sorely missed.

06-02-2009 8:52 AM -- By: MaryAnn Rampey,  From: Six Mile, SC  

What a wonderful man  and teacher!  I will miss walking in with Jerry in the mornings and seeing his smiling face all over the place.  I will miss you, Jerry.

06-02-2009 8:29 AM -- By: Kevin Larkin,  From: Seneca  

My sincere sympathy to the family, friends and colleagues of Jerry Waldvogel.  I admired Jerry for his scholarship as well as his efforts in promoting science and the scientific method.  He was one of the good guys!

06-02-2009 8:17 AM -- By: Judi Newell,  From: Clemson, SC  

Just want to say how sorry I am to hear about Jerry.  I remember him from the Montessori school when Sarah and my daughter Anna were there together for a year.  He was very passionate about the school and always put all of his energy in everything he did.  He made such an impression on me.  My thoughts and prayers are with you and Sarah.

06-02-2009 7:59 AM -- By: Ette Ruppert,  From: Biological Sciences Faculty  

06-02-2009 7:35 AM -- By: Ann Cutler,  From: NSTA  

I regret I didn't get to know Jerry better, but in the brief time I interacted with him at NSTA, I knew he was a gentle soul gifted with a brilliant mind and an unshakeably positive attitude. Jerry is truly a force for Good.

I know he will be sorely missed by all of us. This is a sad, sad loss for the entire community. My heart goes out to his family, too.


06-02-2009 7:27 AM -- By: Barbara Blonder,  From: Flagler College, St. Augustine, Florida  

I came to know Jerry through his wife, Sherry. Sherry and I worked together for The Nature Conservancy. When she met Jerry, things really happened for her. They made a wonderful life together. I have so enjoyed reading the annual holiday letters about all of the family's accomplishments.

I met Jerry at my first SCST/NSTA conference, and milked my friendship with Sherry to gain advice -- I was brand-new to teaching, and Jerry was more than happy to go above and beyond. He sent me loads of information, spoke with me several times over the phone, and truly inspired me with his insights and presentations at the SCST conferences.

I will teach science, and particularly evolutionary theory, with renewed vigor and the memory of Jerry's enthusiasm and passion. He will be deeply missed, but he will live on through our teaching.

Sherry, know that our thoughts are with you.


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