In celebration of Father’s Day, we’re recognizing DSC Dads throughout the month of June and all they do. Thank you, Dads!!
Jerry is the father of two, a son and a daughter. His son, Philip is 55-years old and receives services from DSC. Philip was born six weeks premature and his umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck. The medical technology available when Philip was born did not allow doctors to detect or prevent this from occurring.
By the time that Philip was a year old, they knew that he was showing signs of disabilities. “When he was three and a half, you could look at him and you would never know. He has always been a good looking guy, but you could tell he wasn’t comprehending everything,” said Jerry.
He attended Marquette School, a special school in the area for people with disabilities. He continued at Marquette until he was eighteen, when he came to DSC and began to get involved in doing some work. Jerry and his first wife Shirley were on vacation, celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary, when she passed away. This prompted Jerry to move forward on helping Philip become more independent, something his wife had been working on. She wanted him to be able to live in a group home.
Before his wife passed away, she served on the board for CCAMR (Champaign County Advocacy and Mentoring Resources), one of the first organizations of its kind in the area. After her passing, Jerry served as Chairman of the board. Jerry also served two, three-year terms on DSC’s board.
In 1986, Dale Morrissey, CEO, called Jerry to tell him they had an opening at one of the DSC homes, if they were interested. Dale shared, “To this day, I clearly remember calling Jerry because openings in the group homes were few and far between at that time.” The timing was right because Jerry was working two jobs and his mother was helping to care for Philip at the time. When he moved into the DSC group home, Philip was 22-years old. “There have been other opportunities to move Philip to a home with just a couple of guys and we’ve declined,” said Jerry. “Philip does better in settings with more people and support like he has at DSC.”
Jerry and Betty, his now wife of thirty-two years, take Philip to all of his medical and dental appointments, which have changed, now that Philip is 55. They also bring him to their home on the weekends. “He looks forward to the visits to our house, but he also looks forward to going back to his place. He’s made it his home,” said Jerry.
“I’m very blessed. Betty treats Philip as her own. I’ve been so blessed to be surrounded by so many people who help out and they in return feel good for helping. All of our family has always been very accepting and our friends have been too.”
We’ve also had support from places like DSC, which is such a wonderful organization. “DSC has done a lot for my son. They’ve taught my son to do things that he wouldn’t be able to do otherwise. My son is doing work that we thought he’d never be able to do and he has such a positive, upbeat manner.”
Jerry and Philip both enjoy spending time with extended family. Philip’s sister has a son and daughter, and now Jerry also has a great-grandson, Little Louie, who is always asking for his Uncle Phil.
Now that Jerry is retired, he stays busy being a Grandpa and caring for a church called Rucker Chapel Church. The church is located about eight miles outside of Farmer City, IL. His mother attended and cared for the church and asked him to carry on the tradition. Jerry does weekly maintenance on the 155-year old building and holds an annual service at the church the week following Memorial Day. The church also hosts a few weddings each year, along with an annual wiener roast.