Mr. Gerald Karl “Jerry” Jankowski, 80, of Elkhart, passed away peacefully within the comfort of his Elkhart home on Saturday, May 22, 2021 at 1:30 pm following an extended illness. He was born in Chicago on March 14, 1941 to the late Charles and Helen (Blaszak) Jankowski, and later married Noreen C. Ryan on May 25, 1968. She preceded him in death on May 1, 2020 after 51 years together.
Jerry is survived by his sons Michael “Mike” Jankowski of Elkhart and James “Jamie” (Ann) Jankowski of Brighton, MI; his sister Carol Jankowski of Tinley Park, IL; and his grandchildren Lindsay, Mary and Johnathon Jankowski. He is also survived by a host of loving extended family and good friends.
In accordance with his wishes, cremation is to take place and he will be laid to rest with a private memorial at St. Vincent Cemetery. Billings Funeral Home and Cremation Services of Elkhart have been assisting the family.
Jerry was a proud 1964 graduate of the University of Illinois, where he received his degree in Accountancy. He worked in finance and accounting for BorgWarner and several area companies such as Miller Building Systems, Georgie Boy, and Coachmen. He loved his Illinois heritage and always cheered for University of Illinois academics (while rooting for just about any sports team that might be playing against Notre Dame!!!).
He was an avid outdoorsman and enjoyed being on the water whenever he could. Whether it was boating, fishing or zipping up and down the St. Joe on his wave runner, Jerry loved to get out and enjoy himself. And, of course, winter would not put a stop to his adventures, as he would simply exchange his wave runner for a snowmobile and head out on the area’s countless snowmobiling trails.
He was also a big fan of the grandkids as well, although they might tell you it actually was kind of the other way around. Papa to all, Jerry was dubbed as “the Man, the Myth and the Legend” when it came to the grands. Selfless, intellectual and always giving, Papa always loved using learning experiences to enhance his grandchildren’s lives and just adored them all.
And “legend” was not a word just “thrown around” when it came to Jerry. He spent nearly two decades being his lovely wife Noreen’s caregiver due to her health challenges; and that, in anyone’s book, is the ultimate expression of love and faithfulness. Whether it was Jerry’s Catholic upbringing or just a natural sense of kindness, grace and a desire to always take the high road, Jerry strived to give his all in all things. He will be best remembered for living his life to the fullest with no regrets.
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