Jerry Hugh Kelleher
March 1942 – January 2021
Jerry H. Kelleher, 78, of Ontario, passed away at home surrounded by his family after a long illness.
Jerry was one of five children born to Kathleen and Jerry R. Kelleher at home in Niehart, Montana, in 1942.
Jerry had two older sisters and an older brother who passed away as an infant a year prior to Jerry’s birth. He was followed several years later by the birth of a little sister.
Jerry spent the first part of his youth in Maupin, Oregon, and later moved to a small farm in Deer Island, Oregon. There the family milked and sold cream, feeding the skim milk to the pigs. The family did a small-time timber operation with horses. Jerry Sr. worked out and Kathleen and the kids worked the farm. On weekends they all helped with the logging operation, cutting trees, dragging the timber out with horses, and hauling it to the mill.
Kathleen moved to Seattle area staying with her sisters and worked at Boeing as a welder, sending money back home to her husband and kids.
The family later relocated to a little area known as Kennydale, Washington. Jerry was there from the 5th through the 12th grade. It was there, in 1955, that he met his future wife Patty; he was just 13 years old and she was 10. They dated off and on through high school.
Jerry first went to work for his uncle pumping gas when it was just 19 cents a gallon. In the summer he walked racehorses at Longacres in Renton. Upon graduation in 1960, he took a job working on the John Day Dam just east of The Dalles. Each weekend he would travel back to Kennydale to visit his folks and to date Patty. Jerry and Patty married on Jan 12, 1962.
Jerry and Patty settled in Renton where Jerry took a job with Boeing until 1965. He then joined the Tukwila Police Department; his badge was #4. The once small town and police department of Tukwila greatly changed when the largest shopping center under one roof was built. With the changes Jerry began working full-time in patrol. Shortly there-after he was promoted to sergeant and supervisor over the detective division. On his off hours, Jerry furthered his education and completed 2-½ years of college in the field of police science.
In 1977, Jerry and his family moved to Buckley, Washington. Jerry continued with the police department while the family started a small dairy operation. In 1979, Jerry left the department and moved his family to Troutlake, Washington, where they started and worked a larger dairy operation until 1986.
In 1986, the family relocated to Vale, Oregon. Jerry was hired by Malheur County Sheriff’s Office under Sheriff Bob Ingram and remained there until 1989 when he was hired by the City of Vale as police chief. Jerry remained until the city closed the police department in January 2002. He was the second-longest-term police chief for the city. He loved working for and with the people of Vale.
The family remained in Vale and continued their dairy operation until the youngest daughter finished school.
Jerry and Patty raised 10 children; seven remain locally today. Two have served in the military and two are currently law ennforcement officers. In addition, two of the children have spouses in law enforcement. He was a loving husband, father and grandfather. There were very few times that you would see Jerry without a grandchild in tow. He was a member of the Catholic church and a fourth-degree member of the Knights of Columbus.
Jerry is survived by his wife of 59 years, PattyAnn; children Christine Strauchon, Jerry G., Jennie Sandland, Jason, Jessica Ortman, Jamie Kones, Justin, Jackie Stoneman, Juanita Kelleher, Jolynn Kelleher; 22 grandchildren; 17 great-grandchildren; and sisters Irene Sisco and sister Phyllis Kelleher. Jerry was preceded in death by his parents Jerry R and Kathleen Kelleher; sister JoAnn Rotchford; brother Jerry; an angel baby, grandson Colton Forrest, and granddaughter Rochell Kelleher.
Rosary vigil and Mass to be held Feb. 6 at 10:30 a.m. at St. Bridget’s Catholic Church, 504 Locust Ave., Nyssa, Oregon 97913. Celebration of life to be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, send donations to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital @ www.stjude.org.
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