Jerry L. O'Donnell

Jerry L. Donnell (affectionately known as, Coach and Papa), 70, of Waterloo, died Sunday, June 5, at Cedar Valley Hospice Home surrounded by family.

Jerry was born June 6, 1945, at St. Joseph's Hospital in New Hampton, son of George Norbert and Doris (Sovereign) O'Donnell. His brothers include Joseph the oldest then himself, followed by Mary Catherine, who died at birth, then DJ who died in 2006 followed by Mark and Jim both alive and active.

He attended St Joseph's Grade School and graduated from New Hampton High School in 1963. He attended MCJC in Mason City, where he earned Junior College First Team All-American. Jerry transferred to the University of Iowa. He was the starting halfback his junior year as a Hawkeye. Jerry earned a B.A. degree in Education with a minor in Psychology and Spanish. Jerry was inducted into several Hall of Fames.

On June 10, 19! 67, Jerry married his high school sweetheart, Oletha, and this year marks their 49th anniversary.

Jerry taught PE at Waterloo Columbus High School, where he worked from 1969-74, also serving as an assistant football and track coach. He shared about his teaching career: "I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. He got the entrepreneurial itch, left Columbus and spent time learning machine shop operations, business management, and problem-solving skills. This proved essential as Jerry started a private business while also spending 10 years at the John Deere Product Engineering Center developing labor-management teams. When he left John Deere, he continued painting and working as an entrepreneur; developing more than 30 different products, holds 9 patents, and brought them to market up to his death. These products ranged from a workout device "ForArms" to a magnetized thumb guard for injury-free hammering.

Jerry had a zeal for life that was contagious. He passionately involved himself in coaching, mentoring, and counseling. More importantly, Jerry was a "life coach"; offering gentle insights, never judging, always assisting and supporting.

He enjoyed and looked forward to fishing, spending time in nature, writing poetry, coffee with his friends at Starbucks, tinkering in the garage, and spending time with his grandchildren and family.

Jerry was a humble, funny, passionate, inspiring and loving human who will be greatly missed.

Survived by his Treasures: wife of 49 years, two daughters, Melissa (Jeff Vande Berg) of Iowa City and Margo (Jim) Bodensteiner of New Hampton and a son, Brett (Emily) of Lenexa, Kansas; three brothers Joseph (Janice) of Ashland Oregon, Mark of Cedar Falls, and Jim (Sally) of Rock Island, Illinois; a brother-in-law Derwin (Joanne) Robinson of New Hampton; several nieces and nephews.
He was blessed with 8 grandchildren Olivia, Henry and Audrey Vande Berg; Spencer and Irelynn Bodenst! einer; Conor, Caitlyn, and Kendal O'Donnell; Gracie, his furry friend.

Proceeded in death by: his parents; a sister, Mary, in infancy; a brother, DJ and a grandson, Terence Bodensteiner in infancy.

Funeral Mass at 10 a.m. Friday, June 10, at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, Waterloo. Visitation from 4 to 7 p.m. and a 7 p.m. vigil service Thursday, June 9, at the church; visitation an hour before Friday's services. Burial will take place at a later date.

New Hampton Tribune

10 North Chestnut Ave
New Hampton, IA 50659
Phone: (641) 394-2111
Email: tribune@nhtrib.com

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