Cover photo for Jacob Jerome Brody (Jerry)'s Obituary
1929 Jerry 2024

Jacob Jerome Brody (Jerry)

April 24, 1929 — May 5, 2024

Jacob Jerome Brody (Jerry) was born on April 24, 1929 to Aladar and Esther (née Kraiman) Brody in Brooklyn, New York. He was the youngest of four siblings (Rebeca, Bertha, and Soloman).

Jerry moved to New Mexico in 1955 after serving during the Korean war. "If the Dodgers can move west, so can I!" He always claimed that he chose Albuquerque based on UNM's early start date and excellent ratio of female to male students. Sure enough, soon after classes began Jerry met his wife, Jean, on a six week-long pithouse dig. Jean dazzled him with her fiery red hair and shovel skills. She, on the other hand, remembers to this day that he was no good with a shovel. They were married in 1956. It was the beginning of a lifelong partnership and friendship that involved lots of laughter, adventure, travel, work, learning, and raising their family together. Jerry was a devoted and affectionate husband, deeply in love with Jean until the very end. When visiting them in their retirement home you could usually find them on the couch holding hands, reading companionably or reminiscing. 

Jerry earned his Certification in Fine Arts from Cooper Union in 1950; his BA from the University New Mexico in 1956; his MA from the University New Mexico in 1964; and his PhD from the University New Mexico in 1970.

Jerry was professor of Anthropology, then of Art History at the University of New Mexico from 1965-1989; and Professor Emeritus since 1989. A life-changing role for him was the opportunity to serve as curator, then director of the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology at UNM from 1962-1985. He was a member of the Advisory Board of the Ghost Ranch Museum and the New Mexico Museum of Natural History from 1981-1984; the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian from 1989-1992; and the Zuni Pueblo Museum from 1992 onward. He and his wife Jean taught with the New Mexico Museum of Natural History's Southwest Institute for many years; he also served as a periodic research curator at the Maxwell Museum, School of American Research, and the Laboratory of Anthropology.

Jerry authored 16 books, many of which were foundational in the art history world, including Indian Painters and White Patrons, Mimbres Painted Pottery, and others. 

A respected scholar and sought-after lecturer, Jerry was a pioneer in his field, especially in taking what was thought of as "primitive" at the time and considering it as art. He explored Mimbres pottery and other southwest Indigenous art forms from the perspective of an art historian and anthropologist, often co-creating knowledge systems with contemporary Pueblos. He was an early advocate for the repatriation and sovereignty of Indigenous artifacts and knowledge systems. Above all, Jerry loved art and was a museum guy through and through, deeply appreciating the way museum exhibits can tell a story. 

Working together with Jean and others, Jerry helped create rock art classification systems and documented rock art sites throughout the SW. Anyone who had the experience of going with them on rock art recording missions knows how incredible it was to watch Jerry and Jean working together. They were both passionate about rock art and its scholarship.

Jerry traveled extensively and adventurously, including an epic family camping trip through Europe, bike-packing tours of France and England, and many trips to Mexico. More than anything, he and Jean spent lots of time hiking around New Mexico documenting rock art (as Jean puts it, "We sure covered a lot of New Mexico"). Jerry found constant wonder in New Mexico's skies. He once commented to his son, Jeff, on an overcast day:, "There are a million colors of gray up there." 

Jerry was a talented story-teller, pun-maker, and purveyor of Little Willy jokes. There was nothing more satisfying than telling Grandpa a good (or bad) joke that elicited his delighted bark of laughter.

Jerry died on May 5, 2024 at the age of 95. He was at home surrounded by family with Jean, his beloved wife of 68 years, at his side. He is survived by Jean, his three children (Jefferson Lindsey Brody, Jonathan Edward Brody, and Allison Janet Brody), five grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. He was buried on May 7th, 2024 near his home in San Pedro with a small graveside service for family and friends. A public memorial service for Dr. Brody will be held on May 17, 4:00-6:00 pm at UNM Anthropology Room 163. Parking will be available in Parking Lot C adjacent to the Anthropology Building. You may also join via Zoom:

Grandpa/Dad/Jerry was a great man and he meant so much to so many. May his memory be a blessing.


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