Jerry Wayne Blake, born December 24, 1957 to Doyle (deceased) and Wanda in Sallisaw, Oklahoma, pushed himself toward excellence – whether it was rising early to sell pretzels, playing little league baseball and football, being the last to be found in hide-and-seek, being the banker in Monopoly, and being the first to complete all math and science classes offered at Muldrow High School (graduating 1976). Competition fueled his drive -- or maybe it was his older brother and three younger sisters, Howard, Mary, Gail (Claunts) and Jenna (McIntyre). Jerry also had a knack for finding and expounding on random, but interesting facts – often gleaned from the Wall Street Journal.
After he accepted God’s promise of forgiveness by believing in Jesus at a young age, Jerry’s desire for excellence then focused on pleasing God rather than himself. He gave God every aspect of his life – family, work, friends, even his health. Because of this love for God, Jerry loved other people well, as evidenced by his deep friendships. Anyone who came within range of Jerry was subjected to his inquisitive, sincere questions about their work, lives, and family.
God answered Jerry’s prayer for wisdom and the perfect helpmate when he married Marilyn (Klansek), April 21, 1984. They were blessed with three daughters, Emily (Zumwalt), Sarah and Audra, and later added a son-in-law, Brian Zumwalt, and a granddaughter, Sophia Zumwalt. He exemplified godly fatherhood by being a man of convictions, but also a man who would sing ‘I’m a Little Teapot’ with his daughters.
Jerry brought his faithfulness and excellence into his 40 years of work at UPS. Starting as a part-time sorter, he advanced to package car driver and then to semi driver. But always striving to improve himself and excel, he returned to school and finished a degree in math. Jerry then moved into management at UPS as an industrial engineer. He loved the challenge of finding better and faster routes for moving packages. All the while, sharing his faith with his co-workers.
He and Marilyn were founding members of Northeast Baptist Church, where he served as a deacon and delighted in teaching Sunday School classes. He also attended various prayer groups and men’s Bible study groups. Jerry traveled to multiple developing countries, sacrificing comfort and money in support of his children’s and wife’s mission efforts. Always generous, Jerry and Marilyn supported several children in Kenya, Bangladesh, and Haiti through Compassion International and the Naivasha Children’s Shelter.
While battling cancer for the past five years, Jerry’s faith never waivered. In fact, he sought to comfort others during this time. His prayer life grew as his mobility declined. He emailed thoughts from his personal Bible studies to family and friends. A few excerpts from those emails:
“… what we believe about the future, completely controls how much we enjoy the present.”
“We are all being tested to see whether we will choose to have a relationship with God or not.
We will all experience many trials because we live in a world cursed by sin. These trials will make us more Christlike if we trust God. God created us hoping that one day we would choose to love him as much as he loves us. He has promised those who want a relationship with him that he will one day take us to live in a place where there is no more pain, suffering or death. There will be no more testing.”
“Some people don’t believe God exists… They see death as ceasing to exist. Their only hope for happiness is now…I believe God exists. I believe God created me and therefore there is a purpose to my life. I believe Jesus was God’s son and that he was both fully man and fully God. God sent him to die in my place for my sins…Because Jesus paid the sin debt I owed, I can now have a relationship with the God who created me…I have a hope that I will one day live with Jesus, not because I am a good person, but because Jesus was good…Death will not be the end for me, but a door way to a new and perfect life…and…That I will spend eternity in a perfect love relationship with God and fellow believers, makes me happy now, no matter what my life situation is.”
Jerry never complained. He lived contentedly and at peace with himself and with God.
He once said: “If I live, I get to stay with my family and friends. If I die, I get to see Jesus face to face. It sounds like a win-win situation.”
Jerry has won.
Visitation will be held from 6:00-8:00 pm on Monday, January 27, 2020, at Havenbrook Funeral Home in Norman. A Memorial Service will be held at 2:00 pm on Tuesday, January 28, 2020, at the funeral home, with the family receiving friends following the service.
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