Jerome J. “Jerry” Weinrieb passed peacefully in his sleep on the Sabbath on Dec. 9 after a period of declining health. Although he lived to be 93, Jerry never got old and his time with his family seems brief. Jerry knew only how to live life to the fullest. He left innumerable people with great memories and he remains a testimony to how to live a long and fulfilling life.
He was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Nov. 4, 1924, the day Calvin Coolidge was elected president. He was the youngest son of Abraham and Celia “Tilly” (Stein) Weinrieb. He is predeceased by his brothers, Georgie and Milton, and his sister Dorothy.
He is survived by his 100-year-old sister, Norma; his wife, Rose; and his three children, Shelly Amster and her husband, Michael, of Concord, Mass., Pam Weinrieb of Keene and Eric and his wife, Rachel Hopkins, of Portsmouth. Although he is proud of the accomplishments of his children, nothing has been a greater sense of pride than his three grandchildren, Adam Amster, Chelsea Weinrieb and Gabriel Weinrieb. In addition, he leaves many devoted nieces and nephews.
Jerry spent his youth in Brooklyn where he attended school and developed his lifelong relationship with Charlie Levine. In March 1943, Jerry enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps where he became a skilled cryptographer. Upon discharge in 1946, he returned to his native Brooklyn where he went to work for J. Cougart Jacket Manufacturing Co. He stayed there until it closed.
While visiting his friend Charlie Levine in Springfield, Mass., in 1949, he went on a double date with his future brother-in-law, Eddie Kapiloff. At the end of the date, Eddie had to pick up his little sister Rose. It was that night that he met the love of his life and bride of 67 years. They married on May 28, 1950, in Springfield.
Professionally Jerry defined and re-defined himself many times over his lifetime. He drove chickens to market for the Kapiloff poultry farm, worked at Central Screw, Grand Union Tea Co., Merit Clothing, owned and operated Jerry’s Merchandising Mart, worked in the tool crib at Kingsbury Machine Tool, sold insurance for MetLife and sold roofing products for Texas Refinery. There were years when during the holiday season, he worked for Izzy Borosky at the Army and Navy in Keene. Later he went into advertising. He sold for Manning’s Little Phonebook, Hawkeye and Senior Beacon Magazines. With each job, Jerry was not so much concerned about how much he earned, and instead prioritized developing lifelong friendships with his co-workers, clients and customers. While operating Jerry’s Merchandise, he honed his legendary narrative skills by spending an hour sitting at a customer’s kitchen table, telling jokes and being heard to say, “Let met tell you a story.”
As a member of the Swanzey Fire Department, he helped run the weekly fire department bingo game at the East Swanzey Community Center and at the Cheshire Fair.
Jerry was an Elk, a Legionnaire, a member of the Lion’s Club and volunteer fireman in Swanzey Center. He proudly became a Master Mason in the Lodge of the Temple No. 88 on March 21, 1953. He was past Worshipful Master of the Jerusalem Lodge. He was a 32nd degree Sottish Rite and Shriners with the Bektash Shriners of Concord. He remained active until his recent illness.
He treasured his role as a Justice of the Peace by marrying any couple requesting that he do so, wherever and whenever they wanted. He officiated hundreds of weddings, including his children and other relatives. He reveled in sharing accounts of the weddings and their diverse locations – from Mount Monadnock, to drifting hot air balloons, and in other very modest but loving environments. Although he would not do it for free, he did not do it for the money.
As Justice of the Peace, Jerry was confounded by an obscure anti-Semitic New Hampshire law that prevented rabbis from performing weddings. Jerry successfully lobbied the state Legislature and the law was repealed, resulting in the New Hampshire Jewish Federation awarding him for the lifelong commitment to Judaism and his work against anti-Semitism.
Jerry and Rose were the longest paid active members of the Congregation Ahavas Achim. Jerry was one of the founders of the annual kosher barbecue. He went back to his roots and delivered the chickens from the processing plant in Connecticut to the temple in Keene.
Jerry was a natural actor and ham. He was a ballerina in the Lion’s Club fundraising play, and for many years, Jerry played the role of the Irish Policeman in the revival of the Old Homestead play in Swanzey. He loved to sing and dance.
Jerry and Rose loved to travel. Jerry and Rose rarely missed a dance. Jerry loved to find his place in front of a buffet. They went on many cruises and enjoyed their trips to Foxwoods
Many years ago, his friend Art Carter had to give up playing Santa Claus for the schools and photography studios; Jerry was a natural fill-in. He annually played the role for nearly 30 years. His last employment into his 90s was with Chesco as a job coach and recruiter. He loved to share that they would call him to come into work because “they need me.”
Jerry’s network of friends is widespread. It was so evidenced during his final days at Maplewood Nursing Home, where the flow of visitors never ceased.
His family thanks both the White River Junction Veterans Hospital and Maplewood Nursing Home for the
incredible care provided to him. Staff at both facilities treated Jerry like their own grandfather. His memory will live long in the hearts of many.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in memory of Jerry to Congregation Ahavas Achim in Keene, Maplewood Nursing Home in Westmoreland or a charity of your choice.
A funeral will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, at 10 a.m. in the Congregation Ahavas Achim, 84 Hastings Ave., Keene. Burial will follow in the family lot at Monadnock View Cemetery, Park Avenue, Keene. All services are under the care of Cheshire Family Funeral Chapel, 44 Maple Ave. Keene, NH. 03431. WWW.cheshirefamilyfh.com