August 15, 1940 – April 14, 2019
Jerry Eugene McLeese, 78, passed away on Sunday, April 14, 2019, at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. He was surrounded by his loving wife Sybil, his three children, Greg, Lori, and Ashley, and two pastors, Rev Kelly and Rev Maria Theresa. In addition, he is survived by his sister, Gloria, four grandchildren, Nathan, Erica, Zachary, and Hadley, and one great-grandchild, JT.
Jerry lived a life of love and compassion. He and Sybil met while freshmen at Anderson College and were married the next year. They would have celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary this year. He was a delight to be around. He had an insatiable thirst for knowledge, read constantly, was an avid Scrabble player, loved college sports, and welcomed all into his home.
Jerry found joy in each job he did: sports editor, marketing manager, advocate for tolerance and compassion. Some of his legacy includes:
- While covering local sports for the Anderson Independent Mail in Anderson, SC, Pete Maravich was a freshman at a local high school. Jerry wrote an article, describing Maravich’s accurate shooting as pistol worthy. In an attempt to be funny and creative, he coined the term “Pistol Pete,” a name that stuck.
- While Sports Editor at the Winston-Salem Journal, he wrote about Earl Monroe, a Winston-Salem State basketball player known for being unstoppable and for his spin move. Jerry used the term “Earl’s Pearls” in his article to refer to Monroe’s impressive stats. Thus was born the nickname 1960’s and 1970’s basketball fans knew only too well, Earl “The Pearl” Monroe.
- While working at Wachovia in the Marketing department, he developed an internship program specifically for African American students to provide them opportunities to graduate from college with work experience. He also created the Wachovia Cup program (now the Wells Fargo Cup), a competition among state high schools that focused on overall sports excellence.
- After retiring from owning his own PR and Marketing firm, McLeese Marketing, he founded Interfaith Winston-Salem, an organization “to facilitate learning and understanding between and among the Winston-Salem belief communities and groups. We are an all-volunteer educational group that bring together members of many faith traditions – religious and non-religious – to gain a greater understanding of and respect for each other’s traditions. As we better understand other traditions, we hope to develop a deeper appreciation for our own that will manifest itself in active goodwill to other individuals and to the community as a whole.”
We will have a celebration of his life on Monday, April 22 at Green Street United Methodist Church, 639 S Green St, Winston-Salem. Visitation with the family will be at 3:00 pm, service at 4:00 pm, and a reception afterwards.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Interfaith Winston-Salem, or mailed to Interfaith Winston-Salem, 1959 N Peace Haven Rd, Box 271, Winston-Salem, NC 27106.