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Member Spotlight: Jerry Gilson

Kathleen Morrow | Published on 9/1/2020

Where he's from 
Jerry was born in Danville, Illinois and grew up in Oklahoma. After graduating from the University of Arkansas, he worked in retail department store operations, opening malls across the south. In 1974, he moved with his family to Johnson County, opening Macy’s stores all over the metropolitan area until he changed careers in 1986, joining Merrill Lynch as a financial consultant until his retirement in 2004. He and wife Joan live in Olathe.

About his family

Jerry and Joan, also a League member and part of the Observer Corps, recently celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary. The Gilsons are very proud of their son and his wife, and their daughter and her husband, 
and their four grandchildren. Their son is an engineer with Black and Veatch, and their daughter is an accountant with Orthofix Medical. 

Why he joined the League
Pleased that men were allowed to become members, Jerry and Joan joined the Johnson County League in 2018. They were impressed with a Saturday forum on solar energy they attended, as well as the Preview Party that year, and then they became members. 

What he thinks the League does well
Jerry feels that the League's Souls to the Polls, candidate forums and voting rights work are well done and provide important information and services to the community. 

Where he would like to see the League focus in the future
Racial justice and the elimination of the Electoral College are two areas Jerry would like to see the League focus. Both were important parts of the 
recent LWVUS national convention and are critical issues for the future of everyone in this country. 

What he does to strengthen our democracy
As treasurer for LWVJoCo since March 2020, he feels it is important that we maintain a balanced budget. Assuring members of our fiscal soundness and careful use of excess funds will strengthen and advance our program for the future. 

Fun Fact
If you ever go by Heritage Park in Johnson County, you might see GIANT KITES (Willie the Whale is 65 feet long) floating in the air. The result of a hobby enjoyed by the Gilsons’ son, the kites are a joy to behold, and Jerry is often there manning the lines!

How he is coping with the pandemic
Before the pandemic, he and Joan enjoyed traveling to Chautauqua in upstate New York and to other destinations with Road Scholar. Now he is using his time to maintain and improve his technical skills for use on Club Express (LWVJoCo's website platform) and Zoom. He also maintains a Coronavirus Dashboard for his family, using data from multiple states.