A Life Lived: Jerry Crumley’s heart did the talking for him

Published 9:08 am Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Unlike most people, when Jerry Crumley entered Ivy Hall Nursing Home 11 years ago, he truly found a “home,” as well as a second family. In fact, he was a blessing to most of the staff as well as the resident.

“Jerry loved life and he loved people. Almost every day he sat outside my office, and proposed marriage to me,” said Judy Deloach, owner and administrator. “He was such a loveable person, so full of life.”

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Jerry died Nov. 17 at the age of 66. Due to a birth defect, he had been confined to a wheelchair all his life, and had very little hand coordination. He also had a speech defect. However, none of these handicaps kept him from reaching out to others and opening his heart to those around him. “He was smart. He knew what to do, but just couldn’t do it,” said his sister, Chris Pippin.

She shared that he learned the codes on the doors at Ivy Hall. When a staff member asked him how he did it (opened the shower room door) he said with a smile, “pushed buttons,” and then proceeded to show staff members how he did it.

“Jerry loved Ivy Hall from day one. He attended every activity and his favorite activity was singing. Although he could not verbalize very well, he knew the tunes and could keep time,” said Chris.

When their mother died, Jerry went to live with his sister, Jean, who took care of him for 16 years. “We realized that Jerry was going to need long-term care, and we began looking at homes for him. Our first choice was Ivy Hall, but we were told that Jerry didn’t qualify for nursing home care, but rather should be placed at Greene Valley. We didn’t want that for him. We wanted him to be close so we could visit him. With the help of Judy at Ivy Hall and after six months of wrangling through red tape, the state relented and Jerry had a room and a ‘home’ at Ivy Hall,” Chris explained.

Life was one big party for Jerry. He loved cars, of all sorts, and enjoyed listening to music. He especially enjoyed Christmas, and the holiday lights. “A big thrill was seeing the lights at the Bristol Motor Speedway and riding downtown to see the Christmas lights,” said Chris.

“Jerry was one of those people who thrived and bloomed wherever he was planted,” said Deloach. “Not only did he endure himself to the staff, but to the other residents. They looked out for him, and he for them. It sure was a sad day when he passed.”

Chris shared that when Jerry first went to the nursing home, he was used to staying up late and sleeping late, and it took a while to get him on a schedule. “I remember that one of Judy’s daughters, who worked at the nursing home, would entertain him at night by wheelchair racing up and down the hall with him. Eventually, they were able to get him on a schedule. They were so good to him,” she said.

Joseph, Judy’s son’s, told Jerry’s family, “He was not only a resident at Ivy Hall, but he became part of our family.”

Jerry Crumley couldn’t communicate very well with his mouth. He let his heart do the talking and it communicated love — loved that was “deep and wide.”