Wednesday, November 16, 2016


In submitting my final post for Jerry's Blog, I borrowed the title of one of Tom Wolfe's later novels, A Man In Full.  Jerry Erich lived a full and robust life, not defined by his disability, but by his passion to serve. RI Past President, Rick King, a close friend noted that Jerry's medicine throughout his life was to "get to work". Work was his "tonic". Jerry's philosophy was that the more you do, the more you get; when you give people more than they expect, the more you get back.He mastered the "art of service". Another dear friend of Jerry, the late Past District Governor of Rotary district 5170, Bill Mayhood noted that Jerry never "bemoaned his and Dorothy's polio disease." He would not tolerate pity nor condescending talk from others. This would invoke at minimum a hard stare from him or for the egregious offender, a verbal rebuke".

I have many good memories of Jerry and Dorothy Erich. From his taking me under his wing when I came to my first Rotary meeting in May, 1986 to schooling me on the intricacies of the RI and club bylaws. I remember him supporting his head on his hand, surrounded at the lunch table by his mates never failing to deliver a wry quip when my Domers lost! I also remember Dorothy's radiant and warm smile when she attend our club events. I remember how much he look forward to visiting the RYLA campers, counselors and staff every June when he and his buddies came to the BBQ and donated ice cream to all. Finally, I remember him anticipating his frequent trips to his condo in Maui along with his beloved friends, Ray and Audrey Clark. These and many, many more memories will be in my heart for the rest of my days and in the hearts of all those who were the beneficiaries of his love, friendship and fellowship!

Gerald "Jerry" Edward Erich, January, 1929 to January, 2009.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016


Jerry Erich was a polio survivor, husband, father, business owner, mentor and philanthropist. but what defined him was being a Rotarian. He believed deeply in the mission of Rotary International and its worldwide efforts to help people. He was a proud charter member of the Rotary Club of San Jose East Evergreen (CA). He served two terms as club president and was a generous supporter of District 5170. He donated generous gifts to Rotary's Polio Plus program aimed at immunizing the world's children against polio. Jerry was also a huge advocate for high school students in East San Jose. He established and generously funded the Dorothy and Jerry Erich Vocational Scholarship where he bequeathed a magnanimous gift of $1M, a sum that will guarantee that students will be able to pursue their vocational studies well into the 21st century!

Jerry's other passion was to support his beloved Alma Mater- San Jose State University.  Besides establishing the Packaging Degree Program in the 1980's, he was a season ticket holder and loyal booster of Spartans' football and basketball teams. He was a member of the Spartan Foundation, Quarterback Club and Rebounders/ Hoopsters Club. He also was a member in their Alumni Club and the Heritage Society.

Sunday, November 13, 2016


"Failure isn't so bad if it doesn't attack the heart. Success is all right if it doesn't go to the head."-Grantland Rice.

"While Jerry was away from the business end of the print shop, things got out of hand and his stepfather had to declare bankruptcy. He signed the papers with his pen in his mouth since he could not use his hands. They had a big auction and all the equipment and the new building were sold. What a heartbreak for him! However, he didn't sit back and do nothing. He decided to go back into the printing business once he had his operations and was able to move around reasonably. He heard about a print shop for sale that belonged to an old friend who was going out of business. He often mentioned that he would find out who his friends were when he was asking for some help to get started. Having just getting out of the hospital, he didn't have much to start with. He managed to borrow enough money to get started again. He was able to buy the shop and lease the equipment with the option to buy. When he got started, he kept going not only with a print shop but joined with some friends and started an ad agency. That didn't last too long as they lost two big accounts. He had two employees when he hound a new location for his print shop."

Once he heard that a building was for sale on Julian St., he decided that it was for him. He was able to acquire the place and soon filled it with printing equipment. It was so full, you could hardly walk. He was getting well known in the printing business. As time went on, he bought more land at the same location. Soon, he had a big metal building built to hold more presses and folders, and it was soon filled. Then he needed a machine that would but books, programs and magazines together, so another metal building was constructed. He also used the space to store paper as he would buy the paper in big amounts on skids to save money. At one time, he added a mailing machine to mail the monthly publications. He made the front building into the art and camera departments. Jerry was a great businessman, and at one time, he had over 50 employees. 
He had customers from all over the Bay area with all kinds of printing needs. He became the publisher of several trade magazines during this time; the biggest one being ' Good Packaging magazine'. It was one of the first packaging magazines on the West coast to inform people how products were packaged. With his interest in packaging, he helped start the school of packaging at SJSU. At one time, he bought a house down the street on Julian St where he moved the  magazine department. It was assembled there and printed at the shop." 

Audrey Clark concludes her recollections of he beloved friend, Jerry Erich: " He bought a cabin in Boulder Creek, CA. where he could relax on the weekends. Driving by a print shop in Felton one day, he stopped to chat. He found out it was about to close due to lack of funds. After thinking it over for a week or so, he stopped by again and bought the place. The employees were quite pleased to have a new owner. It didn't take long until he had the place making money with his 'know how' in running a business His good credit withthe paper and ink companies also helped."


There is a wonderful word in Hebrew: "yoke" ("wooden bar") that Jesus uses in Matt 11:29, "Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls". 

Spouses are "yoked together" by the love of God and their love for each other. The love that Jerry and Dorothy had sustained severe trials throughout their lives, however, the "yoke" that bonded them would shower much loving service to their community and beyond through Rotary.

Saturday, November 12, 2016


" Love bears all things, believes in all things, hopes all things, endures all things."- 1 Cor 13:7

"While he was a patient at Rancho Los Amigos, he met his future wife, Dorothy Foley. She was a polio patient also. She had a tracheotomy , her head held up with a halo and no hair the first time he saw her. He was using a wheelchair and was all over the place in the chair. She didn't know what to think about him. The polio affected his muscles in her legs and foot so she had trouble walking. She had to use the trek in order to speak. They were good for each other as the understood what each other had gone through because of polio. They were married in 1962 and they had one son, Stephen. He had high hopes that Steve would love the printing business as much as he did, but it didn't work out that way. Steve went to college and have several jobs, but he had no interest in being a printer. In April 1978, Steve passed away due to cancer. That was very hard on Jerry and Dorothy."

" Dorothy and I (Audrey) became very good friends. We would go to lunch, movies and even took some adult education classes together along with Weight Watchers. We would take the kids swimming and on picnics. If Jerry was home sick  and she had to go out, she would call me to come sit with Jerry as she didn't want him to be alone. If they were going out of town, some times, Steve would be with us. She loved it when Kelly, our daughter, who was born on Dorothy's birthday would come to stay with them. Kelly's daughter was born on Jerry's birthday, 1991." 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016


It is hard for us to "wrap our minds" around the hardship that polio victims had to endure in order to survive. I believe that the key for polio victims and people who are challenged with serious illness lies in the attribute of resilience. Merriam-Websters Dictionary defines resilience as the "tendency to adjust to misfortune and change". I believe that this attribute is formed in one's personal character. Since all of us must undergo life's tests, we are presented with many opportunities to develop a strong character with the ability to adjust to the most severe tests.

Monday, October 31, 2016


Audrey continues: "If Jerry was standing or sitting, he was able to breathe on his own. Once he laid down, he had to have help breathing, so he had to have a respirator. The first one was like a shell over his lungs for sleeping. Then he discovered a type of respirator called "bantam". It was a small case with a hose he held in his mouth to blow air into his lungs to open them. Later they improved a respirator which was much more dependable. He was told that he would not be able to hold the mouth piece in his mouth while he slept, but he was able to sleep that way for over 50 years."