Jerry Wardwell was born on January 21, 1930, and raised in Los Angeles California. He was one of two children from an extremely poor family. He had a natural gift for creating things, that combined with his great imagination meant he was always inventing, fixing, and getting into the occasional bout of trouble. Even though he had spent his youth as a hooligan he realized in a moment of clarity that if everyone else could hold down a job to make legitimate money, maybe it was worth a try. At the age of sixteen, he learned to fly and bought his first airplane. At the age of eighteen, he enlisted in the military. In the Airforce, while learning his new job as an Aerial Gunner for the B29 bomber, he also served as an honor guard member. The bulk of his time in the Air Force was spent in combat, serving in the Korean War. During that time, he earned a Purple Heart and the distinguished Airman’s Service Medal. Once back home he had several careers, one of which included working on a pit crew for a car in the Indianapolis 500.
Edith Wardwell, born Edith Mittman was born in Gross Borken Germany on December 20, 1936. Being raised with six other siblings, she was often quiet and well mannered, keeping a close circle of friends. Her love for animals frequently had her avoiding the kitchen, much to her mother’s dismay, in favor of going out and spending time working with and caring for the animals. She and her family lived peacefully on their farm until they fled Germany during WW2, due to the advancing Russian army. It was while all 8 of them were living as refugees in a one-bedroom house that she truly understood the concept of putting all your trust in God, the value of family, and the value of working very hard.
When the shy and gentle Edith met the troublemaker, war veteran Jerry, the pair appeared to be opposites. Initially, only Jerry knew that this would eventually become a beautiful love story as he proposed on their first date. This idea was not received enthusiastically by Edith as she told him no. Unphased by the rejection the pair continued dating and grew closer, despite the resistance from Edith’s family. She was the first and only member of her family to marry an American. Which would later become a long continuous joke when on their wedding day, everyone forgot Edith at home. Nobody could find her, and it was assumed that her mother had hidden her away. After walking to a neighbor’s house and calling for her Uncle to pick her up Edith arrived fashionably late and slightly flustered to her wedding. A few years after they were married a stubborn Jerry made the decision to devote his life to Christ and alongside Edith, their faith would grow to affect hundreds of people over the years. Jerry and Edith began volunteering in any way that they could, one of which, was at the local prison. In the midst of starting a family and raising their children, they began taking weekly trips to the prison to teach bible study classes. They lived most of their lives selflessly helping everyone around them. Their family grew to include their two sons and their youngest, a daughter. When all of their kids had grown and started their lives, Jerry and Edith followed their love of nature to Oregon. They moved up into the mountains where Jerry had the need to be self-sufficient. He began building three wheelers, snowplows, and a hothouse, among other things. He could often be found out on the back porch with his favorite chipmunks and birds he’d befriended to take food from his hand. When they moved back into town, they became fixtures in the community, constantly helping and offering support to both those they knew and didn’t know alike. They began to live by a new principle, “You can’t outgive God”. Although nobody knew, they often offered help anonymously to neighbors, friends, and strangers, leaving food, money, and clothes on front porches. Jerry and Edith were married for 63 years before passing away three weeks apart from each other. They are survived by their 3 children, 8 grandchildren, and 9 great-grandchildren.
There will be a Celebration of Life for the Wardwell’s on Saturday, December 19, 2020, at 1:00 P.M. with military honors, followed by a committal at the I.O.O.F cemetery.
Memorial donations may be made to Lake County Food Share, P.O. Box 1330, Lakeview, OR 97630 or Lake District Hospital C/O the Cancer Travel Fund, 700 South J Street, Lakeview, OR 97630 or to a charity of the donors choosing.
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