A life lived: Jerry ‘Ollie’ Oliver had a knack for building friendships

Published 9:05 am Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Someone has said: “Big things are built one brick at a time…A life well lived is chosen one day at a time.”

Jerry Wayne Oliver of Hampton, who died Dec. 21, was a brick and block mason by trade and over the years he had left his fingerprints on a lot of buildings. “Ollie,” as he was known to his many friends, enjoyed his job and before his health failed him worked from “daylight to dark six days a week” laying block and brick. He was a perfectionist, never worrying about the outcome. He knew if he laid each brick perfectly, the outcome would be perfect.

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Ollie suffered a heart attack 12 years ago and at different times had tried to go back to work, but was unable to. According to his wife, Kathy, his condition worsened over the years.

In addition to his work, Ollie enjoyed hanging out with friends in his garage and working on old cars. He and his friend, George Livingston, had been restoring Ollie’s 1967 Camaro. “He had had the car since he was 18. He had sold it at one time at an auction, but later bought it back. He and George had been working on it for some time, and now that Ollie is gone, George will finish it,” said Kathy.

Ollie also enjoyed playing the guitar, especially with friends Dean Burchett and Jerry White. “In fact, his guitar is at Dean’s house. That’s where he last played it. Jerry White also visited Ollie a lot. Everyone seemed to know Ollie and he enjoyed jamming with his friends. It was his friends who taught him to play the guitar,” Kathy shared.

She described her husband as a “very kind and gentle man. He was very reserved.”

Kathy also described Ollie as a good father and grandfather. He had two sons, David and Charles, and seven grandchildren. “He enjoyed spending time with them,” she said.

Ollie was also a fighter. “He never gave up. He fought to live from the day he had his heart attack until the day he died. The doctors had told him when he had his heart attack, he may live five years, but he lived 12. He had a pacemaker and had been to Atlanta, Ga., several times to see about getting a microchip for his heart, but in the end he was just too weak to have it done. He really fought hard to live,” shared Kathy.

Olllie’s second home was his garage. “He had a big-screen TV in it, and that’s where he and his friends liked to gather to watch the car races and ball games. He was a big Tennessee Vol fan and a Dale Earnhardt Sr. fan before he was killed,” Kathy said.

Ollie also enjoyed a well-manicured lawn. “He liked to work in the yard, and almost every day he mowed some, earning him the nickname ‘Lawnmower Man,’” said Kathy.

He had a collection of old Sears tractors, which are about as big as a lawnmower. “The five or six that he had are in good running condition,” said Kathy.

Ollie attended Hampton Christian Church.

“Ollie was fortunate in that he had a lot of friends who visited with him after he became sick. They kept him going. And, so many of them came by the funeral home to pay their respects. They all shared what a humble and fun-loving person Ollie was, but, most of all, what a good friend he was. That was very comforting to me,” Kathy shared.

Jerry “Ollie” Oliver was not just another brick in the wall…day by day he laid bricks in life that resulted in lasting relationships and memories.