Jerry Maier, 92, of Albuquerque, NM passed away March 25th, 2021. He was born in Lake Orion, Michigan.
He lived through the depression in Detroit where times were hard. Jerry and his family came to New Mexico in 1945 because his father had been hired by Albert and Ruth Simms to be the head gardener on the Simms farm, which is now the Los Poblanos farm on Rio Grande Rd. He attended and graduated from the "Old" Albuquerque High School. At the age of 17 he had his father sign so that he could join the army underaged. He served as an MP with the occupation forces in Italy where he played basketball with a traveling army team, and spent most of his free time swimming in the ocean around Trieste, where he perfected his infamous "swan dive."
After his army service, Jerry returned to Albuquerque to attend UNM where he played basketball and swam for the Lobos. He was a lifelong letterman and loved to support his Lobos, especially the Lady Lobos basketball teams. He first saw the love of his live, Hallie Barton, while his was being a "gym rat" in the old Carlisle gym. He says he later "made his move" at the Kimo theater where he offered Hallie a stick of gum and thus began a romance that was to last 62 years! Jerry and Hallie worked at the Acapulco Swim Club (now the Sunport pool) where they lifeguarded and ran the snack bar. Jerry dove the pool bottom after closing time to collect the coins that had fallen out of swimsuits and these they used for date money.
Jerry started teaching and coaching for APS in 1954 at Sandia Base Elementary when John Milne was superintendent. He later worked at McKinley Middle school, Rio Grande High school, and Madison Middle school. Hopefully all of the "hamburgers" and "meatballs" he coached knew that he meant these nicknames as badges of honor. After the school day he coached, taught driver's ed, and worked as director of the APS summer camp - Camp Gal-a-grrr in the Jemez mountains. He entertained the family at dinner using salt and pepper shakers, forks and spoons to diagram terrifying situations during his time driving with students in a woefully under-powered VW bug on the Albuquerque streets and freeways.
In 2015 he was guest of honor when fourteen of his former Sandia Base Elementary students from 1957 hosted an event in Albuquerque in his honor. They all visited Sandia Base Elementary where they had attended and Jerry had worked. It is obvious that he had a positive impact on many of his students' lives as many of them became life-long friends and stayed in touch with him right up to his death.
He was an avid and talented handball player. He loved to fish, play ping-pong, shoot pool, play cards with friends, paint and carve, but mostly travel with Hallie. And of course he never stopped coaching and loved to help his grand-children learn to "block out" when they started playing basketball. He even employed the services of 90 year old Hugh Hackett to bring all of his throwing implements to the Highland High track to help a grand-son with shot-put, hammer, and discus, and that grand-son went on to have a successful four years throwing for the Air Force Academy. Jerry loved to play cards, chess, and games with his grand-children, and enjoyed attending their sporting and music events.
In the last year of his life, Jerry survived isolation/lock down in the facility where he lived, a broken hip, months of rehab, a case of Covid, numerous other serious health issues and not being able to be with friends and family. He bounced back from every challenge, but he could never get over the loss of the love of his life - Hallie. We believe he was finally ready to leave behind a life he loved to be with her. The family is grateful to the ex-students and friends who stayed in touch, visited, and played chess with Jerry, especially during the Pandemic. These contacts meant a lot to him.
Jerry was preceded in death by his wife Hallie and grandson Kevin. He is survived by three sons - Ken & wife Debbie, Don & wife Jeannine, and Steve, eight grand-children - Russell & wife Molly, Mitchell & wife Dez, David, Andrew, John & wife Kendall, Krista & husband Justin, Dustin, Darby & wife Emma, and one great grand-child - Everett.
In lieu of flowers the family feels Jerry would be very happy with gifts to Special Olympics, veterans support organizations, or any children's hospital.