Read about Jerry...
Jerry was born to 29 year old Ada May Myers-Hansen on January 18, 1935 and named Vernon William Wiles. She was accompanied by her mother at Kansas City General Hospital. His father was declared 'unknown'. Dad was born in Kansas City, MO and turned over to the Harry Evans Founding Home.
At 6 months old, he was adopted by J.C. and Cora Emery of Tulsa, OK.
Dad searched for information about his 'biological' mother all his life. He had her name and not much else. We finally recieved his adoption file from the Jackson County Courthouse about a month before his death. We told him what the adoption file revealed and I believe he understood. Unfortunately, it was too late for him to meet any surviving family members.
At the age of 6 years old, he began accordion lessons. His mom and dad frequently went to Cain’s Ballroom to dance and listen to ‘Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys’. They would often take Jerry with them. Little did he know that one day he'd have the opportunity to be a part of the history of that famous Tulsa landmark.
It wasn't long until he started playing Western Swing and Country songs on his accordion (by ear), therefore neglecting his regular lessons. He won his first talent contest at the age of 10 years old. This was held on the stage of the Old Cameo Movie Theater in West Tulsa. He won a second talent contest at 11 years old, which was aired over local radio station KTUL in Tulsa. The Master of Ceremonies was Al Clauser and Roy Pickett. He remembers Art Davis and his Band playing over the same station at that time.
In 1953 at the age of 18, Jerry married his childhood sweetheart, Shirley Ann Church. He got a job at a local machine shop and also joined the army Reserves. At that time his music career became ‘part-time’. Over the years he performed with many musicians around Tulsa and Oklahoma City, including several Western Swing bands from the Sacramento area. See the timeline below.
In February of 1957 Jerry and Shirley had twin girls, Janice and Jara. They were born a couple of months early, therefore incurred a lengthy hospital stay. They soon became a handful. In February of 1959 they added another daughter, Kathy.
In 1960 Jerry began playing the piano (by ear). In 1961 Jerry accepted employment with Rockwell International. He spent 30 years there, retiring in 1992 as a Tooling Inspector. In 1991 he also ended 23 years with the National Guard and Army Reserves. Once again, music became his primary focus.
Jerry was Co-Founder Western Swing Hall of Fame of the Southwest. Jerry and Shirley were ambassadors for the Western Swing Society in Sacramento, CA. They represented the society in the area of Public Relations for the OKlahoma-Texas-Kansas-Arkansas area.
In May of 2006, his wife Shirley was diagnosed with ALS ( Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) also known as ‘Lou Gehrig’s Disease’. Exactly one year later, after a steady decline, she died of the disease.
Jerry had 13 grandchildren and 26 great-grandchildren. Parkinsons Disease and occassional strokes left him in a wheel chair and unable to speak for the past couple of years. Dad went to be with the Lord on October 29, 2012. He isn't sad anymore.
Janice, Jara & Kathy