Saturday, July 16, 2016


" Extreme remedies are very appropriate for extreme diseases"- Hippocrates: Aphorisms

" Polio (poliomyelitis, infantile paralysis) is a highly contagious, sometimes fatal viral infection that affects nerves and can cause permanent muscle weakness, paralysis and other symptoms.

  • Polio is caused by poliovirus, an entrovirus which is spread by swallowing material contaminated by the virus.
  • Serious symptoms include: fever, headache, stiff neck, back, deep muscle pain, and sometimes weakness or paralysis.
  • The diagnosis is based on symptoms and the results of a stool culture.
  • Some children recover completely, whereas others have permanent weakness.
  • Routine vaccination can prevent the infection.
  • There is no cure for polio.
In the early 20th century, polio was widespread throughout the United States. Today, because of extensive vaccination, polio outbreaks have largely disappeared, and most doctors have never seen a new polio infection. The last case of wild polio virus (WPV) infection in the US occurred in 1979. The Western Hemisphere was certified polio free in 1994. A global polio eradication program has been underway for decades, but cases still occur in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia. Unimmunized people of all ages are susceptible to polio, however, polio outbreaks occurred mainly in children and adolescents. Many other people had already been exposed to the virus and developed immunity." (The Merck Manual Home Health Book, 2009)

There are statistics that have accumulated over the 20th century that underscore the widespread devastation, not only of human deaths and disfigurement, but also the contagion of fear. In 1988, a public health effort to eliminate all cases of polio infection around the world was led by WHO, UNICEF, and The Rotary Foundation (Polio Plus). This has reduced the number of annual (WPV- wild polio virus) diagnosed cases from the hundreds of thousands to 94 in 2015. (TRF website). Even though this represents a 99.9% reduction (Wikipedia), there has been a bounce back of WPV in some countries. The fight against polio continues. Dr. Jonas Salk is immortalized in annals of medicine for his development of the polio vaccine.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016


"Rarely does a person ever have the opportunity to test the limits of his ability. We can accomplish pretty much whatever we make up our minds to accomplish. If we are not forced to test our strength through dire necessity, through struggle, through hardship, we seldom discover our possibilities."- Napoleon Hill

In September, 1953, Jerry was in charge of managing the exhibits at the Santa Clara County Fair when he became very ill. He held up long enough to complete his job. He was taken to the Santa Clara County Hospital in a coma. When he woke up days later, he was paralyzed and placed into an iron lung. He had contracted poliomyelitis (polio). During that time, he had several operations, mostly to hold his head up coupled with a tracheotomy. Jerry spent 18 months in an iron lung.

After Jerry was out of the iron lung for brief periods, he was determined to spend his time at the print shop. He couldn't do much , but he could tell people what and how to do things. A worker from the shop would pick him up at the hospital in the morning so that he could work, and was returned to the hospital so he could sleep in the iron lung. Jerry's polio had paralyzed his lungs which caused him to struggle with his breathing when he was out of the iron lung. He was able to walk and move around, but that was about all he could do. Jerry weighed about 100 lbs, his head held up by a brace. He could not turn his head, and his arms were in slings. He couldn't move his fingers, and he was hand fed at the hospital with puree food and avocados. Jerry became aware by an old friend, Joyce Young, of polio treatments and surgeries done at a hospital in Rancho Los Amigos, Downey CA. She made arrangements for him to to be admitted into this hospital and drove him there where he underwent several operations on his arms and hands. This was a huge struggle for him.

Saturday, July 2, 2016


Jerry Erich's mother met and married a printer, Lawrence Dugdale, who owned the Graphic Arts Press, located on So. Second Street in San Jose. Jerry started working and learning about the printing business at an early age under the tutelage of his step-father. He attended Lincoln Grade School, Woodrow Wilson Jr. HS and graduated from San Jose HS in 1947 which was located on the campus of San Jose State University. He worked at his step-father's shop most of his spare time, and he had a passion for all sports, especially basketball. He was involved in the First Methodist Church and its youth group. Jerry enrolled at SJSU taking business and printing classes, and he found the time to take printing classes at Stanford.

Jerry as a young adult was very ambitious and had plans of accomplishing many things in his life. He wanted to get involved in local politics and gave thought to running for mayor of San Jose. He had big ideas on how San Jose could improve and become a major city. He also tried to enlist in the Navy but was rejected due to a disability. Jerry was running the print shop most of the time when it was decided to build a building for the new print shop on N. Fourth St. He sold the house he bought on Reed St. ($6500) and moved to a nicer, bigger place on Alum Rock Ave. Things were going well for Jerry, and he was learning a new style of printing called "offset printing" at a school in Oakland. All that changed in September, 1953.

Jerry Erich's history as a young adult would serve him well as a family man, business owner, Rotarian and philanthropist. The roots of true conservatism were planted in him- a respect for tradition, hard work, frugality, service of community, stoicism in the face of adversity. 

Sunday, May 22, 2016


"Far and away, the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing."- Theodore Roosevelt, Labor Day speech.

Most Americans who survived the Great Depression were deeply scarred, physically and emotionally. This national trauma drove many into despair and self-destruction while many others developed a resiliency (defined by Websters as "an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune and change"). I could not imagine that any adjustment would be "easy" during that time. It seems that the incredible work ethic, entrepreneurial spirit along with his financial aspirations that Mr. Erich developed early in his life provided him with the fortitude-the "mental toughness" that would serve him to survive the next great trial of his life-polio.


" He who has done his best for his own time has lived for all times".-Johann von Schiller
I am grateful to Rotarian Audrey Clark of District 5170 for providing me with Jerry Erich's biographical information.
Jerry Erich was born on January 22, 1929 in Taft, CA, child of Westly and Vivian Erich. His father worked for the Standard Oil Company. As a youth, Jerry liked playing baseball, and his dad played for the Standard Oilers. His family moved to Stockton, CA. where his father started working for his brother, Bill at Erich Radio.  After the move, Jerry's dad started playing baseball for the SF Seals. Soon afterward, his parents split up, and he and his mother moved to San Jose. Jerry spoke of them having a very hard life during their early years, and he recalled having dreams of being rich.. The family would go to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk  when they could. Jerry loved the merry-go-round thinking to himself, "someday, I'm going to be rich enough to ride this all day". When he was 10, he was mowing lawns and shining shoes on the street. At 12, he worked two paper routs in the morning and evening. When a carrier  didn't show up, he would deliver their routes for a dollar.  Jerry had the job of "shack captain" where he would assign paper routs to carriers. He was paid $25/month. He saved his money and bought war bounds. At age 14, he had saved enough, $1500, to buy his mother a house on West Reed St. He was also repairing and fixing bicycles to make more money.

Monday, April 25, 2016


Hello friends. It has taken me three years since I originally started this blog with the inspiration and support of Rotarian Audrey Clark who was a lifelong dear friend of Mr. Jerry Erich of San Jose California- husband father and Rotarian. Many of us attribute courage as physical courage, the ability to withstand suffering on a physical level or performing actions that are routinely done by first responders. However, courage/fortitude can manifest itself in so many different ways beside physical actions. Jerry and Dorothy Erich served as witnesses to many people of their courage in the face of a debilitating and frightful disease-poliomyelitis (polio). The purpose of this blog is to share with you the story of a wonderful and courageous couple who dealt with their lifelong disease with grace and joyful service. It is my hope that this blog will serve as an inspiration to all of us that even under the most extraordinary difficulties and suffering, each of us has the power to live a courageous and joyful life. Your comments and stories are most welcomed.