John Emanuel Gerli Jr., affectionately known as “Jay”, peacefully passed away on Friday Sept 29th at his home in Sharon at the age of 86, CT after living with Parkinson’s disease for 20 years. He is survived by his wife, Margery “Tiggie” Gerli, two siblings Eleanor “Ellie” Gerli and Alexander “Sandy” Gerli, and five children John Gerli III, Margaret “Marnie” Fillingham, Linda Bilowz, Bennett Gerli and Brooks Gerli. His legacy continues through the laughter and love of his 9 grandchildren ranging in age from 1 to 29.
Jay embarked on a remarkable journey that touched the lives of many. An alumnus of the Hotchkiss School ’56, Jay’s pursuit of knowledge led him to serve his country in the US Army in the serene landscapes of Maine, followed by academic studies at Columbia University. Following an early career in bond trading on Wall Street, Jay pursued his entrepreneurial spirit becoming co-owner of Wilt Pruf, a premier organic agricultural product, and with his partner successfully managed and expanded the brand for several decades. As a young father he indulged in a few hobbies to express his love of the outdoors. He sailed with his buddies multiple times in the Newport to Bermuda Race in a classic wooden yacht, fly fished on three different continents with a proficiency in tying his own flies and constructing his own rods, and drove in the winter months through nor’easters, if need be, to Mad River Glen in Vermont with his children introducing the “love of skiing” to them all.
In 1983 he married the love of his life, Margery “Tiggie” Gerli, a partnership that blossomed into new pursuits – raising a second family, relocating to Pawling NY and then Sharon CT and starting a livestock business. An enthusiast of nature’s wonders, Jay’s sanctuary lay in the rolling hills of Marben Farm where he nurtured Belted Galloway cattle, named for the distinctive white band around their middles, for breeding stock. As he aged he continued with his various passions, reveling in the art of fly fishing, finding tranquility in the ebb and flow of rivers. Jay’s nimble hands found joy in the restoration of antique cars, clocks and broken objects, each project a labor of love. His coffee, never enjoyed without a splash of Vermont maple syrup, was a sweet reminder of life’s simple pleasures and the warmth he brought to those around him.
Family was truly his lifeline. He was a dedicated husband, adoring father, father-in-law and grandfather. He was extremely proud of his family’s accomplishments and cherished the opportunity to attend his kids and grandkids’ sporting events, music concerts, christenings, first holy communions, confirmations, graduations, and weddings. In fact, just this June, a wheelchair did not slow him down as he lit up the dance floor to celebrate his youngest son, Brooks’s wedding in NYC. He was so very delighted with all of his grandchildren, the smiles they brought him and the endearing look he had when listening to them. We will hold those memories close to our hearts.
A celebration of life service will be held on October 27th at Stanwich Church in Greenwich CT (202 Taconic Rd, Greenwich, CT 06831) at 11am. All are welcome to attend. In leu of flowers, please consider a donation to The Michael J. Fox Foundation.